Amazon Has Secretly Been Developing A Home Robot

Amazon has gradually been extending its tentacles into people’s homes (and recently even cars) with products such as the Kindle, Fire TV and Echo. Now it’s going one step further. The tech giant’s latest project involves robots for the home.

The top-secret device is a domestic robot codenamed “Vesta,” sources familiar with the project told Bloomberg.  The robot is named after the Roman goddess of the hearth, home and family.

Gerritt DeVynck of Bloomberg News explained that no one’s sure what the robot will look like or what tasks it will perform. “What we do know is that Amazon is working on some sort of home domestic robot that is separate from its extensive work in warehouse and manufacturing robotics,” he noted.

It’s unclear how big the robot will be or the abilities it will have, but the company has posted job openings for experts in sensors and robotics. It’s presumed the robot will be able to move around the home and be a mobile Alexa. Prototypes show the robots with advanced cameras and computer vision software.

“The whole history of sci-fi is robots helping you out at home, I suppose,” DeVynck said. “It’s something for Amazon that they want to be in your home, that’s obviously what the Echo device does. They make it easy for Prime subscribers to buy, for Amazon users to buy fairly affordably,  so that you buy more stuff, and presumably, they want to go deeper into your home with this new Vesta project.”

The Vesta project has been under development for a few years, and the aim is to test the robots in employees’ homes by the end of this year. Consumers could potentially have access to the Vesta in 2019, but it’s all subject to change. Amazon hardware projects are occasionally suspended, noted Bloomberg.

People have been fascinated by the possibility of domestic robots, but a maid like Rosie from the Jetsons is still a long way off. The only robot that has successfully made its way into people’s homes is iRobot Corp.’s Roomba. The company has sold more than 20 million of the self-propelled vacuums since 2002.

Technological advances in artificial intelligence, voice activation, and other areas have propelled Amazon to develop Vesta.

A spokesman for Amazon declined to comment.

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