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Amazon’s new robot is basically a spy that doesn’t even work very well

One developer claims the robot will “throw itself down a flight of stairs if presented the opportunity.”

amazon astro robot
Image: Amazon

This week, Amazon revealed its new $999 Astro robot that is basically Alexa with a camera on wheels. Now, leaked internal documents have been revealed that claim that the robot is essentially designed to gather as much user information as it possibly can. And some developers claim that the robot barely works.

In a new report from Motherboard, leaked Amazon documents shed some light on exactly how the Astro robot functions. When you first get your Astro robot, you have to “enroll” everyone in the house who might use the robot. This includes scanning your face to the device so that it will recognize you in the future.

This enrollment is allegedly done to help the robot’s security function, known internally as Vesta. When put in “Sentry” mode, the robot uses Vesta to patrol around your house looking for people and objects that are out of place.

When it finds a person it doesn’t recognize, it follows them around until it gathers enough information about that person to satisfy its data needs. Creepy, right?

The Astro can also be used as remote surveillance for users who are not at home. It utilizes the extendable mast to shoot footage around your house that you can check up on while you’re not at home.

While the Astro’s functions do sound pretty cool, some of Amazon’s developers don’t have much faith in the robot’s abilities. One developer said this about the robot to Motherboard: “Astro is terrible and will almost certainly throw itself down a flight of stairs if presented the opportunity. The person detection is unreliable at best, making the in-home security proposition laughable.”

These revelations don’t make the Astro look too appealing. Spending $999 on a glorified camera-bot that creepily follows you around will probably be a hard sell.

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