Last year we introduced Astro, a totally new kind of robot designed to give you convenience when you’re home—and peace of mind when you’re away. Creating Astro required years of innovation and solving some very difficult technology challenges. And since we started shipping, it’s been incredible to see how customers have reacted to the device, which combines autonomous navigation, intelligent motion, and a delightful personality into a robot for your home.
We’ve received hundreds of thousands of invite requests to purchase Astro so far, and heard many inspiring stories about how people use Astro, why they love it, and how it’s become an integral part of their homes. We’ve heard from customers using Astro with Alexa Together to check in on their aging loved ones. Others are using Astro’s integration with Ring Protect Pro to ensure the security of their home. And we frequently heard that parents and kids can’t get enough of Astro’s personality. We’ve loved every story.
There’s a lot we can still learn, but it’s clear that customers love having Astro in their homes—and we’re happy to announce some new features, including taking the device beyond the home.
Astro for businesses
While we’ve been learning about how customers wanted to use Astro in homes, we’ve also been exploring how the device might be helpful for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). With Astro’s intelligent, autonomous mobility and innovative monitoring capabilities, we believe it can be just as helpful in SMBs as it is in homes—so we’ve been working with our colleagues at Ring to explore what that might look like.
Thousands of new businesses are turning to Ring for security devices and services each week, and last year Ring announced Virtual Security Guard*—a service that lets customers add live motion event monitoring to their security cameras for added peace of mind. We think this is an interesting use-case for Astro. Now we’re bringing Astro and Virtual Security Guard together to offer SMBs a new way to protect their business.
Imagine you have Virtual Security Guard at your business and head home for the night, arming your Ring Alarm. If the Alarm goes off, Astro will autonomously and proactively go investigate what happened, while professional monitoring agents use Astro’s cameras to observe what’s happening in real time. If something is wrong, agents can take appropriate action, like calling dispatch to send the right authorities, or warning off an intruder through two-way talk.
We’ll begin rolling this out to a small group of business customers in the coming months, and we are looking forward to hearing what they think.
Giving Astro the ability to interact with all members of the family
While we expand Astro’s abilities to small and medium-sized businesses, we’re also exploring more capabilities for Astro in the home. One common theme that customers have shared is how quickly Astro is accepted as another member of their family. But the feedback also shows that customers want us to take things a step further so that Astro can interact with other important family members: pets.
So, I’m delighted to share that we’re giving Astro the ability to detect cats and dogs.
With this new pet detection feature, Astro will help you keep an eye on your pet, whether you are on the move or just in another part of the house. While on patrol, if Astro does see your pet, it will send you a short video clip of what they’re doing, so you can decide if you want to start a Live View to say hi to them, or simply enjoy watching what they’re up to while you’re away. For example, you can use Live View to tell your dog to get off the couch, or you can take a picture of what they’re doing to add to your pet scrapbook.
We think this feature will be especially useful by providing a live connection to your pets so that you have peace of mind about them, no matter where you are.
More ways for Astro to provide convenience and peace of mind
Last year we showed you how Astro could learn the layout of your home and be sent to check specific locations you may be worried about, like if you left the stove on. Customers love this feature, but we think it’s just the start—and that Astro could be even more useful if it could learn, with your help, what to check on—either proactively or upon request. To make that a reality, we’re introducing a new multimodal artificial intelligence (AI) capability that gives Astro the ability to learn from you about things in your home that you want it to learn about—and better notify you if something isn’t right.
With this capability, Astro will be able to learn what something is through two modalities: by looking at the object in question, while listening to you describe it.
To start, we’re focusing on windows and doors. Astro can learn things like which door is the front door, which window is the kitchen window, and their location and current state—like whether it’s open or closed. While patrolling, Astro will be able to proactively alert you if it sees a door or window is in the wrong state, such as if the bathroom door leading to your cat’s litter box was mistakenly closed.
Astro does this by sending you a picture from its camera, and you’ll also see text stating which door or window is open. You can also ask Astro to go check on a specific door or window, in which case Astro will go take a picture. Astro will then either return to you with a message telling you about the state of the door or window, or send you an alert through the Astro app. If Astro isn't sure if a door or window is open or closed, it will ask you to validate whether it gets the state right, and Astro will use the learning to make future checks are more accurate.
This new feature utilizes advancements in multimodal AI understanding, and was developed in partnership with our colleagues in the Alexa AI team. And it’s just the start—in the future we expect to give Astro the ability to learn about more aspects of the home, like appliances and pet food bowls.
Develop for Astro with the Astro Software Development Kit
These new features are just a few examples of what’s possible with Astro. We’ve got lots of other ideas for how we can continue to enhance the device for our customers—and we’ve found others do too. We’ve loved hearing how customers are using Astro, but not a day goes by without developers or professors knocking on my door with ideas for what they would like to see Astro do next. So, we’re going to give the developer community the tools to create new experiences for Astro, with a new software development kit (SDK).
We’re testing an early version of the SDK internally—in fact, the new pet detection feature was built using this SDK. We’re really excited about the new possibilities this will open up. To start, we’ll begin working with three of the world’s leading robotics schools later this year—the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Maryland, and the University of Michigan—to put an early form of the SDK into their students’ hands. These are some of the brightest minds in robotics, and I can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with.
It’s Day 1 for Astro
We’ve learned a lot from Astro’s first year, from how it functions in the real world to how customers are finding it most useful in their daily routines. Still, one thing is clear: We’re just getting started with Astro. We’re optimistic about its future and look forward to making it smarter, and more useful, on your behalf.
*Virtual Security Guard is available only within the U.S. (all 50 states, but not U.S. territories). It is an add-on service that requires enrollment and the following: a subscription fee per enrolled location, in addition to a compatible Ring Protect plan and a Ring Alarm system (all sold separately), and Ring Alarm professional monitoring. Rapid Response is the seller and provider of the camera motion monitoring service and agents. Ring bills your Ring account for this service. Virtual Security Guard subscription fee includes 175 monitored motion events per month. Opt into Extra Events for an additional cost. Virtual Guard services are only available with eligible outdoor doorbells and cameras. Learn more.