Report: Amazon’s Astro could be a spy in the guise of a cute assistant robot

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Report: Amazon’s Astro could be a spy in the guise of a cute assistant robot
Astro is powered by Amazon Alexa so it can respond to commands.Amazon
  • Astro is Amazon’s first personal home robot.
  • It has a screen and wheels that let it move around the house.
  • Astro can also set reminders, share weather updates and more through Alexa.
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Amazon unveiled a host of new products at its hardware event and the lineup includes a cute little pet robot called “Astro''. Amazon’s robot has a rotating screen and wheels so it can move around the house. While Astro might be the cutest looking home surveillance product ever seen, having a camera connected to the internet roaming around your house is still a scary thought.

Like other home assistant robots, Astro can set reminders, control smart home devices, share weather updates and more. Astro is also powered by Amazon Alexa so it can respond to commands. All of that sounds cool but Astro might turn out to be more than just a home assistant robot.

According to a report by Motherboard, Astro is designed to collect a lot of information on the house residents, the floor mapping and objects so that it knows how exactly to interact within the house. It also collects information on the “images and raw sensor data it processes as it moves around your home.” This amount of data is apparently to help serve Astro’s security function. The creepy part is that since it already knows who lives in the house Astro follows new people around the house collecting data on them.

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This is the “Sentry” mode that Astro goes into whenever there are people or events it doesn’t recognise at home, the report added based on leaked documents. Sentry mode kicks in when Astro fails to recognise a person for 30 seconds and it will only turn off once it has collected data on them.

When there are unknown people in the house, Astro can move from scan point to scan point which is the best location for it to look around. It also keeps its ears open for unusual activity when the scanning is going on. The report added that Astro can also keep an eye when the homeowner is not there and livestream the video through an app.

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Astro can also be connected to Ring, Amazon’s home security system which is infamous for security and privacy issues. There have been cases of hackers taking over user accounts, and some of them even speaking through the security system. We still don’t know how Astro will perform as the robot will be available to purchase only later this year, and by invitation. This is Amazon’s first attempt at home robots seems to have got the personal assistance right, but the in-home security feature is something that we’ll know more about as it reaches people’s homes.

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