- The designers of Amazon’s new robot call it a ‘disaster that’s not ready for release’
- One claimed that Astro would throw himself down the stairs ‘when given a chance’.
- The $1,500 Alexa-powered household robot was unveiled yesterday by Amazon
- Amazon Says Claims Are ‘Just False’ and Bots Have Been ‘Roughly Tested’
The designers of Amazon’s new household robot have called it a ‘disaster that isn’t ready for release’, with one even claiming it will throw itself down stairs ‘if given the opportunity’.
A $1,450 (£1,115) Alexa-powered bot called Astro was unveiled by the company yesterday as an autonomous device that can monitor a person’s home while they’re not there.
It can be controlled remotely to check the safety of pets, people and the home and provide alerts about any disturbances.
But it appears some of its designers aren’t convinced the bot will live up to Amazon’s billing.
One person who worked on it called Astro ‘awful’, while another dismissed Amazon’s promotional pitch that it might help the elderly as ‘absurd nonsense’, according to motherboard.
The designers of Amazon’s new household robot Astro have called it a ‘disaster that’s not ready for release’, even claiming it would throw itself down stairs ‘if given the opportunity’
A $1,450 Alexa-powered bot called Astro (pictured) was unveiled yesterday by the company as an autonomous device that can monitor a person’s home while they’re not there
Motherboard claims to have seen leaked documents that suggest Astro’s facial recognition system is ‘hugely flawed’, meaning it may struggle to recognize whether someone is a stranger.
“The person’s trace is unbelievable, making the offer of home security laughable,” said a source who worked on the project.
He also said that the robot was fragile and several equipments were broken.
Amazon told MailOnline that the claims were ‘simply false’ and that Astro has conducted ‘rigorous testing on both quality and safety’.
The robot will cost $1,450 (£1,115), but as part of Amazon Day 1 Edition Program – which gives customers the opportunity to quickly reach out and provide feedback – will be available for a starting price of $1,000 (£740).
After purchasing the robot, customers are asked to ‘nominate’ the face and voice of anyone who is likely to be in the house to know who should be there.
If it sees someone it doesn’t recognize it will follow them around the house and record their audio and video before automatically uploading the recording so its user can view it later.
One of Astro’s designers called this data collection ‘a privacy nightmare’, adding that ‘it is an indictment of our society and how we trade privacy for convenience’.
However, Amazon says that Astro is built with multiple layers of privacy and security controls to keep customer information safe.
It says data sent to the cloud is encrypted and stored securely, while users can define ‘out-of-bounds’ zones to tell Astro which areas of a person’s home are off-limits. – There are limits.
The only way to stop a robot from following someone is to disable ‘stranger check’ or if the user tells it to ‘stop moving’.
Astro will also conduct further investigations if it hears anything unusual such as broken glass or a fire alarm.
It has an expandable ‘periscope’ camera that pops up from its head and can perform tasks like checking if the gas hob has been left on after someone leaves the house.
Other products announced by Amazon yesterday include the Echo Show 15. It has a 15.6-inch display that you can mount on your wall or on your counter
It also launched a children’s device called ‘Amazon Glow’ for £240. It’ combines immersive projection, sensing and video techniques to make it feel like you’re having fun in person
Amazon also suggested it could help customers who are remotely caring for elderly relatives and loved ones, but the source called it “potentially dangerous” for anyone who’s really looking for accessibility purposes. Will rely on it.
The robot is available for purchase by invitation to people in the US, which means interested customers will need to sign up for a chance to buy.
An Amazon spokesperson said: ‘These traits of the Astro’s display, mast and security systems are absolutely false.
‘Astro underwent rigorous testing on both quality and safety, including thousands of hours of testing with beta participants.
‘This includes extensive testing on Astro’s advanced safety system, which is designed to detect escaping objects, detect stairs and stop devices where and when necessary.’
Other products unveiled by Amazon yesterday include the Echo Show 15, a device for kids called ‘Amazon Glow’ for them to share an ‘interactive projected space’ with loved ones, and a new security doorbell.
What else did Amazon do at yesterday’s launch event?
Amazon Echo Show 15
The £240 ($250) Alexa-powered Echo Show 15 device has a 15.6-inch display that you can mount on your wall or on your counter.
Users can hang it horizontally or vertically on the wall like a photo frame, as it displays how-to videos, recipes from the web, or shows streamed from Netflix and Spotify.
‘We think about it’ [Echo Show 15] As a kitchen TV, but much smarter, said Miriam Daniel, vice president of Alexa and Echo devices.
The Echo Show 15 can live-stream from your smart doorbell, display streaming services interfaces, personal sticky notes for family members, and more.
The Echo Show 15 can be mounted in either portrait or landscape orientation and is designed to blend into the surroundings like a photo frame
Users can ask Alexa to show a photo frame if you’ve opted to hang it from the wall and want to disable the display, and the Echo Show 15 just shows photos so it blends into the background.
‘Echo Show 15 brings you everything that makes your home stay in one place,’…