(Pocket-lint) - Amazon revealed a robot named Astro during its September 2021 hardware event. At the time, the company said it believes, in five to 10 years, every home will have a robot. It described Astro as a "new kind of household robot that integrates Alexa, advanced hardware, software, computer vision, and AI". It even equipped Astro with what it calls a "unique persona" - which includes sounds, eyes on the display, and wheels to move around. Astro is kind of reminiscent of WALL-E, but it's built on top of Fire OS and Linux, making it more of a Fire tablet on wheels.
Here is everything you need to know about Astro.
How much does Amazon Astro cost?
Astro currently costs $999.99 and includes a six-month trial of Ring Protect Pro. Its price is expected to go up to $1,449.99 once it has a broader release.
When will Amazon Astro be available?
Astro is currently available to buy via invite-only in the US.
How to get Amazon Astro
Unlike other products on Amazon, you need to go through a couple of extra steps to start the purchase process. Log in to your Amazon account and GO to the Amazon Astro page. On the right side of the page select Request an Invitation. You'll then be taken to a survey page. All the questions need to be answered to complete the request. If Amazon selects you, you'll receive an invitation to purchase the Astro and can return to the product's retail page to complete the purchase. The robot has limited quantities and not all requests will be granted.
Astro is considered a Day One Edition device. Amazon releases early versions of its Day One devices in order to collect feedback that may affect future development and product ideas.
What does Amazon Astro feature?
During its September 2022 hardware event, Amazon updated Astro - which still isn't widely available - with new features. Read below to see the highlights of all the things Astro can do.
Astro features a periscope camera, which you can use to see through its own "eyes". Imagine you’re away from home and want to check if you left the stove running or the curling iron on in the bathroom. With an included app, you can do just that - and you can send Astro to check on "specific rooms, things, people, and even pets", Amazon said.
The camera is on a retractable pole, so it can be used to see things high and low.
Ring Protect Pro and Virtual Security Guard
You can combine Astro with Amazon's Ring Protect Pro program to unlock the ultimate home monitoring experience. "When you’re away, you can use it to proactively patrol your home, investigate the activity, and send you notifications when it detects something unusual", according to Amazon. You will also have the option to save any videos of potential instances to your Ring account.
Astro is also moving beyond the home, courtesy of Ring's Virtual Security Guard service, which already lets live response agents monitor cameras in homes and small businesses that subscribe to it. Now, Astro will work with that service as part of a pilot program for small- and medium-sized businesses. Whatever Astro sees while patrolling the grounds, live agents will also see and respond accordingly if something seems to be going wrong. Business owners also need Ring Alarms and a Ring Protect Pro subscription for the integration to work.
Monitoring the elderly, pets, and doors
There are other use cases for Astro.
Amazon mentioned you could call your parent who owns an Astro, and it will go find them to deliver the call. In fact, if you’re doing a video call, Astro will move with you around the house. Another cool trick, if you're using Astro to monitor an aging parent or relative, is you can set up a Routine that sends you a message when your loved one gets up and is roaming around the house.
Astro can also run automated programs to update you on your pets or whether you've left open a window or door, thanks to new software updates that will be available in late 2022. The robot can send notifications with photos or videos of pets during an encounter. But Astro won't text a pet owner more than once in a 5-minute period. You can also customise the frequency of Astro's patrols.
To monitor your doors and windows in your home, Astro will learn where each one is by following you through the house and making a note of them as you point them out to Astro. Amazon's robot will also learn what your door or window looks like when it's closed or open and then asks you if it got it right when it alerts you about an open door in the future in order to improve its learning.
If you're worried about privacy, you can always set out-of-bounds zones to designate areas where you don’t want Astro to go. It even has a "do not disturb" function. Astro also features AI processors to enable edge computing for many tasks. That means, theoretically, a lot of your data and information will be processed locally on Astro and not sent to the cloud where it could be accessed.
Oh, Astro has a compartment area. It's capable of carrying 4.4lbs (2kg) of cargo. There’s a 15-watt USB-C port that you can use to charge your phone, too.
Finally, Astro can do typical things like any Alexa-enabled Echo device. It offers Alexa, so you can use it to access music, news, podcasts, and timers.
Want to know more?
Amazon has an entire support hub for Astro if you want to dig a little deeper and learn more about how this robot works.