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Amazon Astro gets new pet- and security-focused features

Last year, Amazon announced its new home robot Astro. Astro combines autonomous navigation, intelligent motion, Alexa, and a cheery personality all into one device. Thus far, you could use it to help patrol and secure your home or have it always near a loved one for communication. Today at its fall hardware event, Amazon announced new features that Astro will have to improve its intelligence.

First, Astro is no longer just for the home, but also for small and medium-sized businesses. Having Astro patrol your business after hours or while you’re away is an excellent alternative to hiring a security guard. Speaking of which, Astro can now utilize Ring’s Virtual Security Guard feature to keep businesses protected. For example, suppose the company is already using Ring Alarm systems, and an alarm goes off. In that case, Astro can investigate what is happening while a rapid response agent can visually observe what’s happening in real time. Then, if needed, agents can take action by calling authorities or talking to intruders using Astro’s cameras and two-way talk microphones.

Astro patrolling a business with Ring Virtual Security Guard on its screen.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Next up, Astro will now be able to interact with more members of your family. This comes in the form of the new pet detection feature. Astro can now discern cats and dogs from humans and other objects with pet detection. When Astro does see your pet, it will send you a short video clip so you know what your pet is doing at all times. You can then take action and start a Live View or take a photo if you want. So now you can have peace of mind that Fido isn’t tearing up the couch while you’re away.

Astro’s AI will also get more robust by learning about more objects in your home and becoming more proactive in notifying you about the state of these items. Amazon is doing this by introducing a new multimodal artificial intelligence capability within Astro. Starting with doors and windows, Astro will learn their locations (ex., front door, kitchen window, etc.) and whether they are open or not. Astro can then alert you by returning to you or sending you an alert through its app and telling you the state of the door or window. In the future, Amazon hopes to have Astro learn more about objects, such as appliances and pet food bowls.

Astro looking at a dog on a couch.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Lastly, Amazon introduced a new software development kit (SDK) for developers hoping to create new features for Astro. For example, the aforementioned pet detection feature was built using this new SDK. Amazon will work with robotics schools, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Maryland, and the University of Michigan to put an early form of the SDK into students’ hands.

Astro has been available for one year and by invitation only. However, with time, Amazon is making sure that Astro will be a more intelligent, functional, and helpful robot in all of our homes and businesses.

Want to find out more about what was announced? Check here!

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Keyan Riddick
Keyan Riddick is a freelance writer based in the mountains on North Carolina. When he isn't writing you can find him behind…
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