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  • Rovindu Ambagolla

Digital Friday >>> Amazon Launches its New Robot Astro– Is This the Start of the Robotic Revolution?

Picture source: BBC website

Astro is the new robot launched by Amazon which is priced at $999. Astro come jam-packed with a multitude of features. Primarily, Amazon is boasting about Astro’s sophisticated “Slam” technology (Simultaneous localization and mapping) which gives Astro the ability to move around and create a map of their owner’s house which it can then use to navigate itself.

Amazon commented that Astro gives customers the ability to check up on their pets and their home remotely using its extendable periscope camera. It is also designed to patrol their owners houses when they are not at home to detect if there is any unusual activity.

Amazon has also stated that they have engineered Astro to come with a wide range of movements and expressions to make Astro stand out and display a personality.

Picture Credit: Cnet Website

Astro has been in the works for the past four years according to Amazon and will be shipped to a few selected customers later this year.

However, Amazon’s launch of a household robot has sparked some major questions, firstly regarding privacy. Astro comes with a wide range of cameras and mics integrated into its system to help it move around. It can also take videos of your house, listen to you speak via mics, map out your floor plan, and connect all that information directly to its Amazon servers. However this won't sit right with majority of the population and Amazon is keen to dispel these privacy concerns.

Picture Source: The Verge website

Amazon has stated that the consumer can set “out-of-bounds” zones and even shut off video and mics on Astro, but that will mean that Astro won’t be able to move around the house, which clearly defies the point of it in the first place.

Amazon is keen to jumpstart their presence in the consumer robotics market. Amazon’s Device Chief Dave Limp commented “In five to ten years, we believe every home will have one robot that will become a core part of your everyday life.” In addition to this, the President of Amazon’s research and development outfit Lab126 commented “This is our first robot, not out last robot”.

Astro then, with its hefty price tag is seen more as an expensive gimmick then a life changing product which only the very wealthy can afford. But as consumers, we need to understand when working with such complex systems such as artificial intelligence, we really need to hold producers like Amazon accountable for what they create and sell to consumers which they disguise in the name of “innovation”, but is really just a way for the company to get into the market first.

If you want to see Astro in action check out this video!

October 1st 2021 | 1.10 PM

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