Amazon has a new robot—A cunning little cyber-pet called “Astro” who is supposed to be a silly domestic helper reminiscent of R2D2, but in reality is both a nightmare about privacy and a dysfunctional mess.
The $ 1,000 bot that Amazon announced today should be a “domestic helper” – basically Alexa on wheels, with a safety component – and on the outside it’s what some find too cute. Inside, however, the Astro is a cool, sturdy bundle of wires and gears dedicated primarily to collecting and analyzing as much of your personal information as possible, according to the Motherboard, who recently spoke with sources and reviewed documents related to the project.
How it works: When a robot first enters a house, users must “enter” the faces and voices of any person likely to be in the residence so the metal creature knows who should be there and who shouldn’t, the outlet reports. Kristy Schmidt, senior PR manager for devices and services at Amazon, told Motherboard that the device collects a huge amount of data about the house and its occupants to understand how it communicates. The Astro is designed to “handle a large amount of data processing on the device, including images and raw sensor data that it processes as it moves around your home,” Schmidt said. “This helps the Astro react quickly to its surroundings. In addition, your visual ID is stored on the device, and Astro uses processing on the device to recognize you. ”
The leaked documents show that most of that data is collected to serve the robot’s “security” function. The interior within the Amazon was called “Vesta” (ancient Roman goddess of the hearth), the robot can obviously switch to “Guard” mode, which allows it to patrol the house for people or events it does not recognize. When he meets someone whose face has not yet been stored in his database, he continues to chase them around the house, collecting and storing information about them, until he is told to stop. Fun!
“The guard is needed to investigate any unidentified person who discovered or the audio event was met under a certain set of conditions,” the document states. “The guard should first try to identify the person if he has not been recognized for 30 years [seconds]. When a person identifies as unknown or 30 seconds have passed, Sentry should start tracking the person until Sentry Mode is turned off. “
The robot can also be paired with an application that allows the homeowner to broadcast videos from the home while they are not there, the Motherboard reports.
“Vesta is slowly and intelligently patrolling the house near an unknown person, moving from the scan point to the scan point (the best location and position in any viewing area), looking for and listening to unusual activities,” reads another leaked document. “Vesta moves to a predetermined scan point and poses to scan any room, looking past and over obstacles in its path. Vesta completes one complete patrol when it finishes scanning all scan points on the floor plan. ”
The robot is also designed to be paired with Amazon Ring, the company’s disgusting home security appliance that also serves as informal monitoring network for police administrations across the country. After pairing, Astro would reportedly react to events related to Ringo, patrolling the house if an alarm went off.
But on top of all the product’s invasive potential, the Astro may still not be doing very well. Several sources who have worked on previous iterations of the robot said that its functionality is very limited.
“Astro is terrible and will almost certainly throw himself down the stairs if given the chance. Detecting people is unreliable at best, which is why the security proposal in the house is ridiculous, ” an anonymous developer told Motherboard. “The device feels fragile for something with an absurd price. The mast broke on several devices, locking in an extended or retracted position, and there is no way to send it to Amazon when that happens. ”
All of this makes buying a bot sound like a creepy and useless exercise, a bit like tying motorized wheels to a bulky camera and allowing it to roll awkwardly around your home. The thing can’t even suck.
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