Is Alexa getting a big brother? Amazon is working on a secret home robot

Amazon is working on a home robot — which really shouldn’t come as a surprise when you think about it. Ever since its push into online book sales when the World Wide Web was young (about the same time Barnes & Noble and Borders were bringing the hurt to small mom-and-pop bookstores) Amazon has blazed paths other companies only glanced at.

The latest? Amazon’s Sunnyvale, California-based Lab126 hardware research and development division is working on a domestic robot project code-named “Vesta,” Bloomberg Technology reported. Lab126 developed the Amazon Echo, Fire TV, Fire Tablets, and other Amazon electronics hardware product.

A quick search of the Lab126 Jobs website shows the division is currently seeking a Robotics Software Engineer, Robotics Software Development Manager, Senior Applied Robotics Scientist, and Robotics Software QA Manager among 10 positions for robotics specialists.

According to “people briefed on the plan,” a tentative timeline includes early robot versions in Lab126 employees’ homes by late 2018, with a possible market launch in 2019.

“Prototypes of the robots have advanced cameras and computer vision software and can navigate through homes like a self-driving car,” according to Bloomberg.

A robot could work as a central call-and-message service for and between family members, as well as help kids with homework. With the right links, search techniques, and Alexa Skills, a robot could serve as a rolling assistant that provides step-by-step or background information while family members cook, work on budgets or finances, or plan parties, dates, or vacations.

There may also be special-purpose home robots, including models trained to make wireless connections with all the computing, productivity, entertainment, and smart home electronics in the house and on the property to monitor power status or ward off or block invasion threats. It could also make sure all devices have updated software and drivers, and that important data is backed up to the cloud.

Internet connectivity as an enabling infrastructure has been at the root of all successful Amazon ventures. Low-cost Kindle electronic book readers, Amazon Echo counter-top voice assistants, and Amazon Fire TV smart television dongles all leveraged internet access. The Amazon Fire Phone was a notable exception. It failed quickly.

Computing

Nvidia’s Jetson AGX Xavier module is designed to give robots better brains

Nvidia's pricey Jetson AGX Xavier might help drive the next generation of smart robots. Nvidia hopes that developers will use its new Xavier module to power AI-driven machines like delivery drones and robots used in manufacturing.
Smart Home

These wireless security cameras are a wire-free way to protect your home

Home security cameras can give you piece of mind, but if they have wires, are limited in where you can put them. We've rounded up the best battery-operated home security cameras to give you flexibility along with your security.
Home Theater

These top-line smart speakers conduct the most sophisticated symphony: Your life

Stuck talking to yourself? Get an A.I. assistant to keep you company! Whether you put your stock in Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, we've picked out the best smart speaker for any smart home ecosystem.
Deals

Walmart is offering Google Home starter kits for under $50

If you're hoping to save big on Google Home devices before all the holiday deals come to an end, there's no better time than right now. Walmart is slashing prices on smart home starter kits for a limited time.
Smart Home

These accessories take your already awesome Instant Pot to a whole new level

If you're familiar with the Instant Pot, you know that this bad boy acts as a pressure cooker, rice cooker, cake maker, egg boiler, and a lot more. Here are some must-have accessories to make Instant Pot cooking even better.
Smart Home

Amazon shows off compact cashier-free store that could show up at airports

Amazon is testing its smallest Amazon Go store to date as it considers taking the grab-and-go technology to new venues such as airports and train stations. The compact store is a quarter the size of its current locations.
Smart Home

Amazon sent me a Christmas tree. Did it leave me pining for more?

Is driving to a Christmas tree lot or farm to get some fresh pine a daunting task that you dread every year? Good news: Amazon is now selling real Christmas trees with free shipping. We decided to order one to see how it went.
Smart Home

Cops go after porch pirates with dummy Amazon boxes and GPS trackers

Amazon is helping police in Jersey City to catch thieves who steal delivered packages from outside people's homes. Within just minutes of the operation's launch this week, cops nabbed their first porch pirate.
Smart Home

A couple’s recalled dishwasher caught on fire — and now they’re warning others

A Wisconsin couple has been using the dishwasher in their house for a year, unaware that it was recalled in 2009. Then the appliance caught fire. Now they are warning others to check appliances for risks when buying or renting a home.
Smart Home

Amazon has some killer deals on vacuums through the holidays

Whether you're buying for someone else or for yourself, Amazon has some great deals on vacuums running through the holidays. Score them while you can and keep your home cleaner than ever.
Smart Home

Got an Emerson thermostat? 135,000 of them are being recalled due to fire risk

Most recalls are relatively benign but if you own an Emerson-branded thermostat, we encourage you to check your model number because the company has alerted consumers to the potential of the device starting a fire.
Deals

You don't want to sleep on these red-hot bedding deals

We've rounded up some of the best discounts and sales happening right now, so you can buy yourself (or your loved ones) new bedding without breaking your budget. Trust us when we say these are deals worth losing sleep over.
Deals

Best deals for smart home plugs that control your lights and appliances

Smart hubs and speakers play central communication and management roles in your home, but smart plugs let you add lights and appliances to your system. Any smart plug you buy must support one feature or anything you plug in stays dumb.
Mobile

G’day, Google: U.S. users can now give Assistant a British or Australian accent

U.S. Google Assistant users can give their Assistant a different voice. Google has updated Assistant with the ability for users to give it either a British or Australian accent, which could make it a little more personal for some.