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Amazon Showed Off the Latest in Robotics

by Carl Steward
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The Impact of the Amazon on the U.S. EconomyAmazon Showed Off the Latest in Robotics

For years, electronics companies have paraded around bright, futuristic prototypes of consumer robots. They’ve predicted that shortly, humans would have roving robot helpers around their homes who can do the dishes and even perform an intimate massage. So far, few of those forecasts have come true and primarily remain science fiction. Amazon’s: MARS technology conference in Las Vegas last week featured the latest in robotics from the e-commerce giant and other technology companies in attendance.

Take, for example, Amazon’s Astro robot. Last September, the company unveiled the long-rumored house robot, which costs $1,000 for invitation-only customers. It will cost $1,500 when released to the public on an unspecified date. Astro greeted visitors to re: MARS with a simulated smart home outfitted with an assortment of internet-connected equipment.

Astro stands around two feet tall and resembles a tablet on wheels. It may follow you around the house and play music, or it can carry drinks in a built-in cup holder. Astro has a camera mounted on top of a periscope. It can be raised high enough to keep an eye on your house while you are gone. It can groove to disco music in your kitchen.

Amazon Might Open Astro to Third-Party

In an interview, Washington stated unequivocally that this is neither the final iteration of Astro nor is it the company’s last robot. Amazon is also considering opening Astro to third-party developers and letting them add new talents, according to Washington, who joined the business in June after serving as Ford’s top technology officer. It might potentially accelerate the process of making Astro smarter and more useful.

Astro’s home security, entertainment, and remote capabilities for caring for senior family members were popular among early customers. Amazon claims it was most startled to learn that people demand more capabilities that allow Astro to communicate with their pets. Amazon knows a thing or two about robots. After Kiva Systems was acquired for $775 million a decade ago, it formed Amazon Robotics. It focused on automating portions of its warehouse operations. It has recently moved beyond industrial robotics, founding a consumer robotics section within Lab126, its top-secret hardware unit.

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