Amazon's Astro and friends: A robot rundown
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Amazon's Astro and friends: A robot rundown

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Speaker 1: The robot uprising might be upon us at last. And I'm kind of here for it. Let's talk about Amazon's Astro and the ongoing quest to put a helper robot in your home. Speaker 1: I love I do. I really want a rosy the robot in my home call it laziness if you want. Hey, kind of mean, [00:00:30] but who likes doing those chores? Who likes washing the dishes or vacuuming technology is getting better? Let's automate this Astro might be the closest we get to a main consumer robot for a while, but not for lack of trying and not just cuz the name's also in Jetson's reference. Let's talk about some of the helper bots that preceded Astro. Then I'll dive into the pros and cons of Astro itself. And based on all that, I'll talk about what I want next from my household. Bot [00:01:00] Astro is not the first robot marketed to consumers far from it and I'm not even going to get into the stuff. That's primarily just a toy like Sony's IBO every year at C there are piles of robots that vary from far out their tech concept to ambitious consumer pipe, dream to robots. Speaker 1: That actually kind of have a chance of launching. Here are a couple that I actually liked. I'll start with Mayfield robotics Curry [00:01:30] from CBS 2017. It was adorable first and foremost, the eyes were super expressive. It could function as a Bluetooth speaker, but primarily Curry, a roaming security bot. It would map your floors and could follow a patrol pattern and notify you if something was out of the ordinary. So yeah, cute eyes, autonomous navigation, security focus. Curry had a lot in common with Astro. It even had a big name [00:02:00] behind it. Sure. Mayfield robotics was a startup, but it was backed by Bosch a giant appliance manufacturer and still it never made it to market in July of 2018. Mayfield robotics announced that it was Cing production and refunding all pre-orders while Curry had a legitimate chance to come to fruition. One of my other favorites S probably never did, but it was exactly what I was looking for. Speaker 1: This was the next [00:02:30] year at CES 2018 and Olas had hands that could grip objects. It had object recognition. It could move and map spaces. In theory, it could grab a vacuum cleaner and navigate well enough to use it. It could pick up after you. It could also act as a security robot and learn faces. It checked all the right boxes and it was humongous. I can imagine this giant thing rolling toward me in a darkened hallway with [00:03:00] a can of soda and me forgoing my very real thirst to sprint the other direction. Just cuz images of sci-fi takeovers started to flash on my end and it was going to be super expensive. The representative wouldn't even give me a price just as much as a family trip overseas, it was not practical and it was never gonna happen. I mentioned all those things it could do. Speaker 1: In theory at CES, it was just grabbing a can of soda as controlled by a guy nearby on a computer. [00:03:30] But it was just so cool that even admitting that it was never gonna happen still kind of hurts. It's okay. I'll have a robot friend's someday Curry and Iola still hold a special place in my heart, but there were plenty of others, a varying scope and ambition that should also help lay the groundwork for my eventual perfect robot helper. The Misty and Misty two are kind of like robot canvases for developers at large to work [00:04:00] with and build on U tech had a yoga teaching bot called links and a walking robot called Walker, LG and Samsung debuted concept robots. And they do that nearly every year at CES, but at CES 2021, Samsung had one called bot handy that an object recognition and an ability to grasp and move stuff. Speaker 1: It was what I wanted, but just a concept for now. We've seen robots that can hold a conversation. [00:04:30] You've no doubt seen the videos of Boston dynamics, bots, carrying boxes and showing off their agility. But in terms of robots, you can actually buy Astro is a big, big step. It's not necessarily the one I wanted though. I wanted one of these ambitious star guide startups to do it, not freaking Amazon, but here we are and Astro does look cool. Autonomous navigation built in voice assistant. Of course it has a Periscope cam to see [00:05:00] that much higher and further. It has expressive eyes and cup holders. For some reason, it can follow you around when you're on a video call, it can map your home and go check something. If it hears a suspicious noise, it can patrol it can recognize faces. So if it sees a stranger, it'll go take APIC and send it to you. Speaker 1: If the stranger is patient enough to stand still, that is in terms of privacy. Amazon is saying some of the right things. It only sends video to the cloud. If [00:05:30] it's in a way mode, the processing used to navigate is done locally, which is cool. But the floor map is stored in the cloud. You can set out of bounds rooms, but it records 360 degree video while it's patrolling it. Can't open doors obviously, but still Amazon is a big company and Astro is going to get to know you and your home very well for better or worse. And from a functionality standpoint, it's kind of just [00:06:00] Curry a few years later and actually coming to fruition, it's a roaming security bot with eyes, for personality and a built in smart speaker. That's not to say that technology. Isn't cool. It is the autonomous mapping. The fact that it's a consumer bot, it's actually ready for consumers. Speaker 1: That's awesome in and of itself, but even Amazon's not confident enough in Astro for a full launch. Astro is launching as an invite only device for now. It's from Amazon's [00:06:30] experimental wing, the echo frames and the echo loop launched from the same wing and at those device is don't sound familiar. It's cuz Amazon puts out experimental stuff all the time and if they don't take off, it just quietly moves the products to the dustman at the other end of the spectrum. Once upon a time, the Amazon echo smart speaker was also an experimental invite, only product. So it's definitely within the realm of possibility that Astro takes off. Amazon execs are [00:07:00] already talking about what the Astro two might be capable of to satisfy my own robot cravings though. I want a little bit more in terms of basic functionality, having arms and the ability to grip and move objects might be too far away. Speaker 1: Even if Samsung is showing it as a concept, but what about vacuuming? We have robot vacuums. Now why not put Astro on top of one of those? So it can serve a dual purpose while it's patrolling your home. Anyway, granted, that might make the product [00:07:30] bulkier, but who cares designers do? But I don't, again, Astro is a big step for consumer robots, but my favorites add a level of convenience. That's what Rosie does. That's what I want a robot of the future to do. And Astro doesn't do too much of that yet. Check out the link below to get on the invite list for Astro. Speaker 1: Right? Good reminder. I'll also link to of my colleague [00:08:00] stories detailing the very real privacy concerns raised by the robots. And let me know in the comments, what you would want to make a consumer robot seem worthwhile is Astro enough for you or are you holding out for Rosie? Thanks for watching. Please hit that thumbs up button and subscribe to the CNET YouTube channel for more. And in the meantime you want to be my friendly helper robot. [00:08:30] That seems extreme, but all right, I can take a hint. Thanks for watching. I wish I could do the same thing.

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