Amazon Might Be Making A Mobile Alexa RobotBy - 05/27/2018
How do you feel about an Amazon Echo device with a robotic body following you around your home? Some might say it’s creepy, while others probably think it’s cool. But regardless of your stance, rumor has it that an Alexa robot is already under construction according to a recent Bloomberg report.
The Alexa robot project is codenamed Vesta, after the Roman goddess of heart, family, and home. According to Bloomberg, the project is being supervised by Amazon’s Lab126 division, which is the same division responsible for Echo, Fire TV, and Fire Tablets. Vesta, as a project, was actually started years ago, but Lab126’s recent surge of job posts might be an indication that they are boosting development. Currently, Amazon is looking for Robotics Software Specialists, Applied Robotics Scientists, and Principal Sensor Engineers. According to the report, people familiar with the project claim that Amazon is hoping to release a robot as early as 2019 with Alpha and Beta tests commencing by the end of 2018.
After Amazon’s huge success with Alexa, building a robot that can act as a personal assistant isn’t that far of a stretch. In fact, it seems to be a smart move for Amazon. For one, personal robots are slowly becoming a thing in the smart home space. Personal robots were a trend presented at CES 2017 and 2018. While in Vegas, we even met a few robots we liked including Buddy and Ubtech’s humanoid robot Lynx. Lynx also happens to be a robot that is powered by no other than Amazon’s AI voice assistant Alexa. If such robots already have the potential to be great, imagine a personal robot built by Amazon who has complete control over Alexa’s abilities.
Amazon is also already invested in AI and robotics. In 2012, they purchased Kiva Systems which they turned into Amazon Robotics, a division that creates industrial robots for Amazon’s day-to-day warehouse operations. Last fall, they started offering facial recognition and object recognition to their Amazon Recognition service customers. They are also continuously improving Alexa. Just a couple of weeks ago, Amazon announced that Alexa will be getting a memory. She will soon be able to remember things you want her to, like your favorite color, your anniversary, and more.
Finally, the cost of owning a domestic robot is still very steep, and Amazon knows that. Given their history of aggressive pricing strategies, Amazon is probably looking into entering the personal home robot industry with a more reasonably-priced Alexa robot. If that’s the case, it’s a win-win situation between budget-conscious consumers and Amazon.
The Vesta project is an ongoing, developing story. Amazon refuses to comment on the project, but we’ll update this post as soon as we hear more.
*Not an actual picture of Vesta.