Amazon upgrades $1,000 Astro robot


Astro, a robotic home assistant introduced by Amazon last year, has been given a series of new upgrades.

Astro, which costs $999.99 and is available exclusively by invitation, uses a periscope camera with an expandable field of view to proactively patrol your home and send you notifications when it detects something unusual. Videos taken by Astro can be saved to a user’s Ring account. 

According to a blog entry posted Wednesday by the world’s largest online retailer, Astro can now detect cats and dogs. 

“While on patrol, if Astro does see your pet, it will send you a short video clip of what they’re doing, so you can decide if you want to start a Live View to say hi to them, or simply enjoy watching what they’re up to while you’re away,” Amazon Devices and Services vice president Ken Washington wrote.


Astro will also leverage artificial intelligence to alert you if a window or door is mistakenly left open or closed by sending you a picture with text identifying the door or window in question.

“If Astro isn’t sure if a door or window is open or closed, it will ask you to validate whether it gets the state right, and Astro will use the learning to make future checks are more accurate,” Washington said.

Astro sitting next to door

In the future Amazon expects to give Astro the ability to learn about other parts of a home, such as appliances and pet food bowls.


Astro will roll out to a small group of small and medium-sized business customers in the coming months to be used in tandem with Ring’s Virtual Security Guard.

“Imagine you have Virtual Security Guard at your business and head home for the night, arming your Ring Alarm. If the Alarm goes off, Astro will autonomously and proactively go investigate what happened, while professional monitoring agents use Astro’s cameras to observe what’s happening in real time,” Washington explained. “If something is wrong, agents can take appropriate action, like calling dispatch to send the right authorities, or warning off an intruder through two-way talk.”

Astro in warehouse

Amazon is currently testing an early version of a software development kit for Astro, which will be put in the hands of robotics students at Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Maryland and the University of Michigan later this year. 

Astro’s latest features come as Amazon recently announced plans to acquire Roomba maker iRobot for $1.7 billion.

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The deal has been referred to by one critic as the “most dangerous, threatening” acquisition in the e-commerce behemoth’s history.

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