In case you haven't heard, Amazon has just presented its new domestic robot. We knew they were working on it but we did not know its characteristics and its name. Finally, last week these unknowns were revealed. By name Astro, it is popularly spoken of as if it were an Alexa on wheels. Well, quite a bit of that it has, but it's not the only thing. In addition to explaining a bit what has been made public about that robot, we will also tell you in this post the main differences and similarities with our Aiko robot. This will give you a better idea of what you can expect from it compared to what you already know from Aiko.
What is Aiko Robot
To contextualize and although you can see a broader description here, Aiko is the first AI relational robot to make you happy. It is an evolved social robot that takes advantage of the classic capabilities of social robots and that uses artificial intelligence to build a stronger affective relationship and thinking in the medium and long term. In other words, each interaction with you counts beyond the interaction itself. To learn and get to know you better. To evolve your personality. To adapt their behavior to you.
What is Astro Robot
Astro is a domestic robot with several general functions, mainly for home monitoring and communicating with other members of the family. Here's a more detailed description of them:
- Home monitoring. Astro can move autonomously around your flat (on one floor as it cannot go up / down stairs) or go to specific areas (with the doors open), showing you by video on your mobile what is happening there and sending you alerts if it detects any unfamiliar face. For this, it has several cameras and even a periscope camera that makes it easy to see high places. In cooperation with other sensors, it can detect smoke or glass breakage, for example. Everything aimed at making your home safe.
- Contact with elder people. Astro can provide remote support to people who care for an elderly person and you if any of your parent lives alone. Messages, reminders and alerts can be sent through it, for example to know that they are active and that there has been no problem. This allows you to gain confidence that his/her day is going well without the need to make a call. It's okay to call, but it's not always a good time or you have to postpone it until the end of your workday.
- All Alexa services on the go. If you are not interested in any of the previous blocks, perhaps your profile is this one. Astro can follow you around your home offering you Alexa services. If you do not have an Alexa in all your rooms and living room, this can be a good alternative although more expensive. In return, you have a robot with a certain personality that aims to evoke emotions such as empathy through its eyes, sounds, and movements. It's like a kind of Wall-E that would go around your house.
Without going into the technical details, this is pretty much what we've been told Astro can do. In a simplistic way, it is a mobile robot, which can take certain things like a beer to a specific place in the house, which can monitor it remotely, play music and video, recognize people, detect strangers and also unusual events such as a breakage of a glass.
Okay. It doesn't look like anything spectacular, does it? After all, it's Amazon. And from those giants one expects giant things. Or, at least, different things. Others have already offered similar multipurpose home robots. Do you remember Jibo? It was the most crowdfunded robot of all time. An absolute record.
However, the most interesting thing about Astro is not what has been said, but what has not been said or has been said on tiptoe. In other words, the most interesting thing about Astro is the technology that is inside and about which little has been said. For now.
This is a bit technical but since it is the really important thing I will try to tell it without many technical words.
Of its technology, its advanced navigation (SLAM) and its artificial vision capabilities that run on the robot itself (not in the cloud) stand out above the rest. This way it can detect walls, doors, objects, people, animals, obstacles, stairs and create a map of your floor to go through it. All this information processed in the robot without the support of the cloud. Does that mean it doesn't send information to the cloud? Of course not. Sends it. If not, there is no way to improve the service. What they do with it will be the same as what they do with the one that Alexa picks up. You imagine it, right?
All this is possible thanks to two main technologies: TinyML technology designed to run machine learning algorithms on devices with limited resources and edge ai hardwaretechnology that allows these calculations to be performed on a specialized and optimized processor. Both are current trends in the field of AI.
Thus they open the door to developers to make innovations around this robot. The future will finally tell us where it will evolve, although humans are not usually very good with long-term predictions of technological advances. Peter Thiel co-founder of PayPal said: “We wanted flying cars , instead we have 140 characters ”. Few know believed that pocket mail was a good idea when Blackberry introduced it. And surely you did not know that YouTube, according to its founder Steve Chen, was born as a place for dating to find a partner. You see the turns that technological evolutions take until they find their end site.
Aiko vs Astro
You may be wondering if these robots have things in common. Well, they both move, they both have computer vision, and they both use AI. And so far the aspects in which they are similar. Because beyond those common generalities they are quite different in everything else.
Let’s go step by step
- Concept. Aiko is an AI relational robot whose main goal is to establish powerful long-term relationships with you to learn, entertain and be a helpful companion. That is, all its activity revolves around you in such a way that its use is motivating and fun. Astro, on the other hand, is a domestic robot oriented towards home monitoring. Everything revolves around the house and what happens in it.
- Interaction. Aiko wants to relate to you in the most natural way possible using dialogue, recognition of people and objects, and touch sensors among others. Something similar to what you do with other people with the limitations of being a machine. Astro wants to interact with your home and other devices. Interaction with you is limited to responding to your functional orders. In that sense it is an expanded Alexa.
- Personality. Aiko has an evolving personality that learns from every interaction with you to adapt to yours. It has positive and not so positive moments that are shaping it, modifying its mood and its own personality, which makes each Aiko evolve and become a unique being. So some will be more adventurous and others will be calmer. It all depends on how you treat them. Astro has a very basic personality. It responds to each moment to try to make it more enjoyable but it does not have the learning capabilities that allow it to mold its personality by adapting to you.
- Contents. Aiko has a set of activities under the subscription model aimed at fulfilling its objectives that are not others that you learn, develop your skills, entertain yourself and do not feel alone. Its personality helps it to offer you these activities in a way adapted to you. Thus, in its repertoire it has games to learn while having fun and develop STEM skills, Special Needs and also dialogues. Have a good time chatting with it making you feel a little accompanied. Astro, on the other hand, has generic functions for monitoring the home and people, but everything is yet to be developed.
- Use cases. Aiko can be used by children to learn, to develop social, emotional and cognitive skills, to play and to chat. It can also be used by all ages to chat and keep company. It is a robot designed to make you a little happier helping you in all those scenarios. Astro, as I have already mentioned, has a little bit of a security agent, a little bit of a bartender, a little bit of an assistant and a lot of Alexa.
- Technology. In this area, both robots share the use of similar technologies for their operation. The first thing that stands out is that Astro has a screen and Aiko does not, with all that that involves. Movement and vision is more sophisticated in the case of Astro since to fulfill its main monitoring function it incorporates 6 cameras while Aiko only needs one to satisfy its functionalities. On the opposite, the interaction based on dialogue is more developed in Aiko while in Astro it maintains the same type of interaction as with Alexa. In short, the hardware included in Astro is more complex than the one included in Aiko and it shows in the price.
- Price. Aiko is priced at € 529 (now in launch promotion at € 399) separate subscriptions while Astro is priced at $ 1,499 (now in promotion at $ 999) and for now it will only be available in the US.
Which robot suits me best
We hope we have given you a comparative summary of both robots. If you still have doubts, here is our opinion depending on what your main need is.
If you want a robot for children, Aiko is your robot.
If you want a robot for the security of your home, Astro is the best option.
If you are looking for social-emotional and cognitive development in both robots you will find answers. In the case of Astro, it will be through the applications you find in the Alexa ecosystem. In the case of Aiko, they will be the specific ones developed exclusively for Aiko.
If you want a multimedia system with access to the video and music catalog, Astro offers you the entire Amazon catalog. Aiko was not created for that, sorry. It is a relational robot, not prime video or spotify.
If you want a fun companion for a child with Autism or for an elderly person, Aiko has been designed to respond in that field. If you want a robot that monitors the normal flow of your home or of an elderly person, Astro is more qualified for it.
If price is an obstacle, Astro costs 3x more than Aiko. In this there is nothing more to say.
In this dilemma between a domestic robot and a relational robot, you have the last word ;-). Surely you already have an idea about it.
Do you want to know more about the Aiko robot?
On our website you can see its characteristics, functions and all the services that we have developed so that the experience is very satisfactory in these usage scenarios: learning, entertainment and solitude. There are also others that we have not mentioned but that we keep very much in mind: special needs, mental health, programming and personalization.
If for convenience you prefer to have everything in one place, please download our dossier.
Relational AI robots are highly advanced artificial beings that have come to overcome the shortcomings of traditional social robots and find their place in our homes.
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