As an intelligent home reviewer of a certain age, all I want for my home is a Rosie the Robot. The Jetsons‘ The mechanical housekeeper is the example I held with Amazon’s Astro when I tried the company’s first home robot – and it unsurprisingly failed. Not just because it doesn’t have arms, but because it doesn’t really do anything.
Now, according to internal documents from Amazon seen by Inside, the company thinks it has found the keys to unlock Astro’s potential. Burnham is a secret new AI robot project being developed by Amazon that, according to the documents, adds a layer of “intelligence and a conversational interface” to an intelligent home robot. , reports. Inside.
An upgraded Astro powered by Burnham could use large language models, and other advanced AI, to become a home robot that understands the context of a busy household and responds appropriately. According to Insidethe documents show that the technology “remembers what it sees and understands” and the robot can then “engage in a Q&A dialogue on what it sees” and use AI powered by LLMs to act on it.
For example, the documents describe an Astro product that uses Burnham to be able to find a stove left burning or a faucet left running and track its owner to alert them. It can check on someone who has fallen and call 911 if it’s an emergency. It can help find your keys, check if a window was left open overnight, and monitor if kids have friends over after school, according to the documents. These are all things you can do to some extent with existing smart home tech, but it requires more steps, devices, and actions, as opposed to one – Astro.
Most interestingly, however, Amazon appears to be exploring the startup’s more complex tasks. An example given is a robot that sees broken glass on the floor, recognizes that it presents a hazard, and sweeps it up before a human steps on it – essentially, problems can be seen and they can be solved.
This “Context Understanding,” as Amazon describes the technology in documents, is “the latest and most advanced AI technology designed to make robots smarter, more useful, and you talk more.” So, basically, Rosie the Robot (but without arms).
However, Burnham won’t be coming to a robot near you anytime soon. Amazon acknowledged in the documents that it will take some time before Burnham is placed on a product. You also can’t buy the current, not-so-smart Astro without an invite, the price of which just went up to $1,600, and Inside says Amazon scrapped plans to release a cheaper version.
Even amid the rapid adoption of generative AI by tech companies like Amazon, a home robot as capable as Rosie is just a science fiction character. Although Amazon’s statement in a document, “Our robot has a strong body. The next thing we need is a brain,” makes me think twice about how much I want an intelligent, AI-powered that robot that roams around my house.