Amazon has extended its invasion of the home, unveiling a two-wheeled robot capable of autonomously patrolling houses and alerting owners to potential intruders.
The company’s “Astro” device, which will cost $1,449 (£1,071) when released, will be able to follow users as they move around the house, check if ovens are left on, and send notifications if they detect something unusual.
It is able to use facial recognition to identify members of the household, for example to find them for a video call, or to transport an item to them.
The device marks the latest attempt by Amazon to position itself at the centre of the “smart home” with a range of cameras, video screens and appliances such as internet-connected thermostats and doorbells. The company has continued the push despite alarming privacy campaigners.
Astro, which will first go on sale in the US, features a periscope camera that can be used to patrol hallways and empty rooms at eye level while people are out of the house.
The device can patrol hallways for intruders
Amazon said it represented a first step into home robotics. “In five to 10 years we believe every home will have at least one robot that becomes a part of [daily life],” said Dave Limp, the company’s devices chief.
The company claimed the robot would have particular value to elderly users by helping them stay in touch with family members through video calls.
Amazon, which has been a leader in home smart speakers since it launched the Echo in 2014, has been rumoured to be working on a home robot for several years but is believed to have struggled with areas such as how it navigates around the home and deals with obstacles such as pets.
The company said it had built privacy-preserving features into the robot, such as designating areas of the house where it can not go, limiting it at certain times of the day, and turning cameras and microphones off.
Amazon sees its devices partly as a way to sell subscription services such as its security system, Ring Pro Protect, and “Alexa Together”, designed to make it easier to keep track of elderly relatives.