Amazon Kills Astro Robots But One Generation Lives On

By Douglas Helm | Published

Amazon is putting the kibosh on the business versions of its Astro robots. These Black Mirror-esque rolling bot assistants essentially act as little security guards that patrol a business and take recordings and videos that can be used for security and investigations. However, on September 25th, the Business bots will shut down for good, and Amazon will issue refunds for the original $2,349.99 price of the bot, along with a $300 credit. 

Re-Focusing Development Efforts

While the Amazon Astro business robots will be shut down, there is still going to be a home version for the bots, which was Amazon’s given reason for shutting down the business program. The company’s VP of hardware engineering, Lindo St. Angel, said the home robots are “where we should focus our resources” in an internal memo to staff. Amazon also provided a statement to The Verge, saying, “We’re excited about the in-home experiences we’re inventing for Astro, and look forward to sharing more in the future.”

Another Amazon Home Assistant

In other words, it seems like the Amazon Astro for Business robots had to die so the in-home robots could live. Or it could be the case Amazon simply wasn’t selling a ton of the business bots and the home bots seemed like the better way to go. Amazon has found a lot of success with its home assistant products like the Echo Show, Echo Dot, and Ring doorbell systems, so it would make sense if it wanted to re-focus efforts on the home Astro.

Shifting The Work Force

There’s also the good news that Amazon’s shutdown of the Astro business robots won’t result in layoffs, as the employees will simply shift to working on the home robots. Interestingly, the bots also won’t be repurposed nor can they be converted into a home bot. Instead, Astro for Business owners will get a free shipping label they can use to send the bot back for Amazon’s recycling program. 

Reaching Out To Customers

Customers who purchased Amazon’s Astro for Business robots will also get an email with additional details about refunds for the device. The email says that the refunds will be processed in the coming weeks and will return to the original payment method on file. The email also notes that Amazon accounts will be credited if the original payment method isn’t on file and that no additional steps are required to get the refund.

In addition to the refund and $300 credit, Amazon is giving Astro for Business robot customers an invitation to the Astro Day 1 Editions Program so they can purchase an Astro for Home if they choose. The email also includes details about the Astro Secure subscription, mentioning that the subscription will end on 9/25 automatically and that customers won’t be charged subscription fees starting July 3.

An At-Home AI Companion

The Amazon Astro for Home robot mentioned in the email is available to purchase only by invite, so it seems Astro for Business owners can still get on board with the new direction if they enjoy having it patrol their businesses. The home edition is currently listed for $1,599.99, and leaked information about it mentions the use of AI to have conversations and remember interactions and things it sees. It’s as if having your Amazon Echo listen to everything wasn’t creepy enough.

Source: The Verge