Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge
Yesterday, Amazon announced its “home robot” — a wheeled device named Astro that has a display, an array of sensors, and a camera that periscopes out the top of its body like a mast. In advertisements for Astro, Amazon presents the device as an engineering breakthrough and the realization of a long-held sci-fi dream: to build a robot that can help around the house.
This is rubbish, of course. What Astro is — for better or worse — is a camera on wheels.
The physical limitations of Astro are obvious. It has no arms or manipulators; no way to interact with the world other than bumping into objects at shin height. It can’t navigate steps, and, according to employees who worked on the robot and spoke…