Amazon is supposedly planning to build a home robot dubbed “Vesta,” which is understood to act as a home virtual assistant, according to a report by Bloomberg. The Vesta project is reportedly being led by Gregg Zehr, head of Amazon’s Lab126 hardware research and development division which also built the Echo speakers, Fire TV, Fire tablets, and the Fire Phone. The robot prototypes will use a combination of advanced cameras and computer vision technology to follow users wherever they go around the house. The goal of the home robot is to fill the role of an Echo device in areas of the house where homeowners can’t possibly talk to their Alexa-powered smart speaker.
It remains unclear, though, what specific tasks the home robot will carry out once it makes it to a final release or what design it will have, though Amazon has been increasingly looking to expand the team of professionals through job hiring for software and sensor engineers who will be tasked with building the robots. Max Paley, a former Apple executive, will be responsible for the computer vision component of the project. Amazon is said to be planning to begin testing the home robot prototypes in the households of its employees later this year and in the houses of the general consumers by early next year, though it is possible that Amazon might change its plans and eventually ditch its home robot ambitions.
Amazon has been making great progress in the computer vision, advanced cameras, and artificial intelligence segments over the last couple of years following the rollout of its Echo smart speakers and Amazon Go stores. As a reminder, Amazon Go is Amazon’s no-checkout store that’s fully automated to let consumers buy products without having to queue in a line to pay for the goods purchased. Amazon has also been considering the idea of a robot for delivery services as a recently published patent application originally filed by Amazon in 2016 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reveals details about the use of “autonomous ground vehicles” for home deliveries. Plenty of home robots have also been unveiled in recent times, including Mayfield Robotics’ Kuri which debuted at CES 2017 and LG’s Cloi smart home hub. Only time will tell when and if Amazon launches its first home robot.