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If you have a pet, you know how hard it can be to leave your furry friend home alone, either because they'll get lonely or just wreck the house. Now Amazon's friendly house robot Astro will bring checking in on your pets to a whole new level.
Amazon announced at its Hardware Event today that the Astro will soon be able to detect cats and dogs in the home. The pet recognition will allow the robot to, at your command, find your pet, and send you a video feed of what it finds.
Regardless of your location, you'll be able to use Astro's Live View to say hi to them, watch all of their antics, and relieve your anxieties about the state of the home.
Astro's TLC for pets isn't entirely new. Since Astro dropped last year, you have been able to connect your Astro to the Furbo Dog Camera to the robot to toss treats at your fur baby.
All you need to do is place your Furbo Dog Camera to the cargo bin, plug it into the Astro and enable the Furbo Alexa Skill to create an Alexa Routine to send Astro to a room to toss a treat to your pet.
In addition to recognizing your pet, the Astro can also use a new multimodal AI capability that will allow Astro to learn items in your home, only if you want it to. In the same way a human looks at things and associates words with them, the Astro will learn to associate words with items in your home.
"Based on what you say while Astro is looking at an object, Astro will learn about the object's place and state in your home—similar to how humans learn," says Ken Washington, vice president of Consumer Robotics. "This will start with doors and windows, so that Astro can alert you if something was left open that shouldn't have been."
These Astro updates are not the only upgrades coming in Astro's future. If you are a software developer, soon you'll be able to create your own experiences for Astro, with an upcoming software development kit (SDK) for Astro. It was this SDK for Astro that allowed Amazon to develop the new pet detection feature.
To further advance the SDK technology, this year, Amazon will start working with three of the world's leading robotics schools: the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Maryland, and the University of Michigan.
"We'll put an early form of the SDK in their students' hands. These are some of the brightest minds in robotics, and I can't wait to see what they'll come up with," Washington says.
Currently, you can only purchase an Astro if you are invited. The Astro retails for $999.99.