Amazon launches home robot Astro and giant Alexa display

Robot that can check on loved ones and pets is one of plethora of devices announced at big launch event

Amazon has launched its long-awaited home robot, named Astro, that can autonomously drive around your home packed with cameras and a screen. Astro can map your home’s layout, recognise objects and check on loved ones and pets remotely using a series of cameras and a display on its front, featuring a set of expressive animated eyes. The robot can handle video calls, recognising you and coming to find you when someone calls, and provides all the features of Alexa on wheels. But Dave Limp, head of Amazon’s devices and services, said “customers don’t just want Alexa on wheels so we’ve embodied it with a unique persona that’s all its own”.

Moving at up to one metre a second, Astro can also act as a security robot. It is linked with the doorbell firm Ring’s Protect Pro service, and can patrol your home, investigate disturbances and send an alert if it detects an unrecognised person. It can stop immediately if something suddenly moves in front of it, such as a pet, or when encountering stairs. Owners can set up out-of-bounds areas and turn off cameras and mics, while LED lights and the screen show when someone is viewing the robot’s cameras. Astro also processes images and sensor data on the device to help preserve privacy.

It will be available in the US to invited customers as part of Amazon’s Day 1 Editions early device programme costing $999.99 (£749) and will be one of the first domestic robots available, joining robotic vacuum cleaners and mowers. Amazon also launched a super-sized version of its smart display with a 15.6in screen designed to be wall-mounted. It has on-device facial recognition, similar to Google’s Nest Hub Max, and is designed to be a shared digital centre of the home, with calendars, sticky notes, smart home controls and camera feeds all accessible as widgets, alongside the popular digital photo-frame features.

The display can act as a TV with Prime Video, Netflix and other services, or a video call screen. It can be taught to recognise custom sounds, such as the fridge beeping when left open or the washing machine finishing, so it can send you an alert. The Echo Show 15 will cost £239.99 ($249.99), shipping later this year.