Still, last year’s pitch was that Astro could be a home assistant to make your life more comfortable and entertaining—a sort of cute, bumbling sidekick. This year, Amazon has recast Astro as a device with a much more serious mission, to provide another set of eyes on the things a person most values: their pets, their home, their livelihoods.
As with any surveillance technology that you invite into your life, using Astro will require an element of trust. This time, however, you would be extending that trust to a robot capable of roaming about your home. That might seem like a small step, but it’s a huge one for not only how people interact with and view home robots but also for Amazon’s involvement in our private lives.
Nevertheless, Maya Cakmak, an assistant professor at the University of Washington and head of the Human-Centered Robotics Lab, says Astro’s compatibility with other aspects of Amazon’s home surveillance ecosystem, namely Ring and Alexa, could well set it up for success. “Astro can provide these services seamlessly,” says Cakmak.