Amazon is still hard at work building an actual Rosie the Robot-type robot for your home, according to a report today in Bloomberg.
We first heard about this robot a little more than a year ago, but this latest report indicates Amazon has not given up on the project and has actually increased work on it — though details remain scant. We know it’s called “Vesta” internally at Amazon, and Bloomberg’s sources say prototypes have wheels and “are about waist-high and navigate with the help of an array of computer-vision cameras.” It also can be summoned with voice commands a la Echo and Alexa.
Evidently, Amazon had wanted to debut the robot this year according to Bloomberg, but it’s not ready for scaled up production. The robot could also never see the light of day, projects get killed all the time at large companies, but Bloomberg writes that Amazon has added engineers to the project, which could mean it plans to sell Vesta at some point.
Beyond all this, we still don’t know what this robot is for. It could be some type of mobile Alexa that follows you around, and, for our purposes here at The Spoon, potentially help you by controlling various connected kitchen gadgets or ordering groceries, but without more information, we’re just guessing.
When we first wrote about Vesta, I was skeptical that it would be just a mobile virtual assistant. First, we don’t know if the robot can do things like climb stairs, which is kind of important in a lot of houses. Second, Echos are so cheap, if you need a ubiquitous Star Trek-like computer assistant, you could just get a bunch of Dots and place them all throughout the house.
Others disagreed, however. Last year friend of The Spoon, Kevin Tofel, wrote:
So maybe Vesta is more of a roving Echo than a robot that can fold laundry or make your coffee.
I’m OK with that and here’s why. I’d rather have one smart speaker that also has a camera than speakers and cameras — think Echo Show and Echo Spot — in every room of the house. If that one device can either follow me around the house or be within earshot, I don’t need multiple devices that basically do the same thing. And I can send a camera-enabled device away if that device is a robot.
But again, without more information, it’s hard to say how useful this robot may or may not be.
What we do know, however, is that we have reported on three different versions of home-related Amazon robots over the past year. In January, Amazon launched Scout, a squat cooler-looking rover bot that deliver packages. And in February, The Spoon uncovered a patent for an Amazon autonomous ground vehicle that would live in a persons garage and go out to fetch packages.
In addition to the robot news, the Bloomberg story also reported that Amazon is also prepping a new version of its Echo with improved sound.