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Amazon’s First Home Robot And The Tech Behind It

Amazon’s First Home Robot And The Tech Behind It

  • In terms of remote senior care, Astro is said to be able to recognise faces, search for elderly people, and send caregivers status updates.

Amazon unveiled a slew of new Amazon-branded products at its annual fall hardware live-streamed event 2021. The list includes an Echo device that hangs on the wall and serves as a digital whiteboard for the home, a ring security service that tracks activity on your property and an interactive video chat portal for kids. In addition, Amazon showcased its Alexa-powered Astro, a new camera-equipped robot that navigates your home while you are out.

It is Amazon’s Wall-E – like a robo-pet combining AI, Alexa, computer vision, sensors, mapping technology, edge computing and ring technology with live feed support. Let’s understand the tech behind this new home robot and look at what all it holds.

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Amazon’s Astro comes with two Qualcomm QCS605, one Qualcomm SDA660 and Amazon AZ1 Neural Edge. Launched at last year’s hardware event, the AZ1 Neural Edge — Amazon’s first neural edge processor, is designed to perform deep learning inference locally on the device rapidly and efficiently. Amazon and MediaTek worked together on the silicon level to combine AZ1 with MediaTek’s high-performance MT8512 processor, which is utilised in the new generation of Amazon Echo smart speakers. Amazon has also built a voice recognition neural network model that works well on the AZ1. 

Astro utilises the tech called ‘Intelligent motion’ by using advanced learning algorithms and sensor fusion to navigate in the home while avoiding obstacles at the same time. Additionally, one can even grab a chance to video-chat via Astro, and it will move along with you as well. The navigation and optical sensors not just allow the robot to move autonomously but provide it with the capability to create a map on its own of the environment around it.

(Source: Amazon)

It comes along with a plan where one can activate a six-month free trial of Ring Protect Pro, have Astro proactively patrol, investigate activities, save videos in Ring’s cloud storage for up to 60 days, and more. Astro will roam your house with its periscope camera, examine any suspicious behaviour, and save videos in Ring’s cloud storage for 60 days if you activate a six-month free trial of Ring Protect Pro. If Astro detects something unusual, such as an unknown person or sound, it will send you a remote alert. One can also take a look at some of the other functions Astro is capable of doing:

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  • One can remotely send directions for Astro to check on specific rooms, people, or things. Additionally, Astro sends out alerts when it detects an unrecognised person or certain sounds when you are not at home.
  • Astro can also help one to deliver calls, messages, alarms, reminders and timers.
  • Astro is also equipped with a detachable cup holder and can carry other items like the OMRON blood pressure monitor, a Ziploc container, and a Furbo Dog Camera that tosses treats to your pet.

Moreover, in terms of remote senior care, Astro is said to be able to recognise faces, search for elderly people, and send caregivers status updates. You’ll also be able to build up routines for medicine reminders, write grocery lists, receive activity notifications, and check blood pressure with future Alexa integration.

Need to ward off privacy concerns

Astro’s high dependence on facial recognition and capturing user behaviour raises eyebrows among privacy advocates. Moreover, Vice reported about leaked documents, and the documents indicate it will help in surveillance. On the other hand, Amazon, on its Astro privacy page, mentions that Astro processes sensor data on-device rather than sending it to the cloud. It sends data to the cloud only when you utilise features like live view in the Astro app, video recording, video calling with Alexa communications, and storage via Ring if you have a Ring Protect subscription.

Amazon further says that the green light indicator on top of Astro’s periscope indicates that the video and images are streamed to the cloud. One can “turn off” mics, motion and cameras for having privacy at home, and one can use the Astro app to make it clear and let Astro know where it is allowed to go and where not permitted. However, the all-new home robot can actively patrol your home and is certainly unique and seems good when it comes to technology applications. We can expect more players from the tech space to come up with innovative and useful home robots and expect Tesla to deliver on its humanoid robot as well.

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