Update: Amazon sent a statement to IGN after the publication of this article, noting that the characterizations of Asto’s performance in the recent report were “simply inaccurate.”
Amazon’s full statement follows:
These characterizations of Astro’s performance, mast, and safety systems are simply inaccurate. Astro went through rigorous testing on both quality and safety, including tens of thousands of hours of testing with beta participants. This includes comprehensive testing on Astro’s advanced safety system, which is designed to avoid objects, detect stairs, and stop the device where and when necessary.
The original story continues below.
Amazon’s newly announced home robot Astro, might not be ready to roam around households, a new report claims.
Originally reported by Vice, one source who worked on Astro reportedly called the smart robot a “disaster that’s not ready for release.” Another developer is alleged to have said Astro is “terrible,” noting that the robot is not reliable for accessibility purposes as Astro will “almost certainly throw itself down a flight of stairs.” Amazon notes on Astro’s store listing that Astro has intelligent motion, meaning it should be able to move around objects with no issue; this includes avoiding going up or down the stairs, which the company also notes it cannot do either.
Amazon Astro Images
The report also notes that leaked documents and videos of developers’ meetings obtained by the outlet show that Astro did a lot of surveillance with a reliance on facial recognition systems; this includes a feature where Astro will follow unrecognized people around. When a user obtains Astro, there’s an optional feature that allows you to “enroll” your face and voice of everyone in the home so the robot can learn who lives in the house.
Yet, sources that spoke to Vice note that Astro is unfortunately not great at detecting people. This scenario could cause a potential headache for residents in the home that Astro is constantly bugging in the form of following them around or bumping into their ankles.
Although the article raises a lot of questions about the overall quality of Astro, preordering the robot is currently not available publicly. You can submit an application expressing interest in the chance to buy the robot for $999.99. After the device becomes more widely available to purchase, it will retail for $1,499.99. When you are filling out an application, Amazon asks you a series of questions that give a better idea of your home, which may determine your chances of getting a “Day 1 Edition” of Astro. In either case, the possibility of spending over $1,000 on a robot that may break does not seem ideal.
Taylor is the Associate Tech Editor at IGN. You can follow her on Twitter @TayNixster.