Amazon in “bricking” it’s $2,350 Astro robots after only 10 months

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Amazon is set to deactivate all Astro for Business robots on September 25, less than a year after their launch as security devices for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Initially priced at $2,350, these robots will soon join Amazon’s list of discontinued products.

Amazon introduced Astro in September 2021 as a home robot. This version is still available as a $1,600, invite-only preview. In November, Amazon shifted Astro’s focus to SMBs.

On Wednesday, Amazon informed employees and customers via email that Astro for Business will stop working on September 25. The email stated that personal data will be deleted from the device, but patrol or investigation videos will remain accessible in the Ring app until video storage expires or the Ring Protect subscription ends.

Amazon will refund customers $2,350 and provide a $300 Amazon credit. Unused, prepaid subscription fees will also be refunded. Amazon cited the need to focus on making Astro the best home robot as the reason for ending support for the business version.

Astro was introduced in late 2021, but it remains unavailable to the general public. The shift to SMBs seemed promising, but ultimately failed.

Astro for Business could autonomously patrol spaces up to 5,000 square feet with an HD periscope and night vision, carry small devices, and was controllable by Amazon Alexa.

Amazon’s Alexa division, which oversaw Astro, has faced financial difficulties and layoffs. David Limp, who headed the Astro project, has exited Amazon.

Despite the discontinuation of the business version, Amazon still plans to release a home version of Astro. The potential integration of generative AI with Alexa could play a crucial role in this. Astro’s development has been lengthy and complex, involving over 800 people. The slow progress and high costs raise concerns about the viability and demand for a consumer version.

Astro’s journey reflects the challenges Amazon faces in its devices business. While the focus shifts to developing a home version, the abrupt end of Astro for Business serves as a cautionary tale for early adopters. Amazon’s commitment to advancing AI and robotics remains, but the path to a successful consumer product is uncertain.



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