Amazon is working on a home robot powered by Alexa, and the product will meet the mass market in 2019, according to a report by Bloomberg.
The project, codenamed Vesta, is overseen by Gregg Zehr, head of Amazon’s Lab126 hardware research and development division in Sunnyvale, California. The lab has created multiple Amazon devices, including Echo speakers, Fire TV and Fire tablets.
The robot, which will work like a mobile Alexa assistant, is powered by advanced cameras and computer vision software and can navigate through home like a self-driving car.
The project has been around for several years, but the company has just began to aggressively hire talents for it, as reported by Bloomberg. Lab126 has listed openints for jobs like “Software Engineer, Robotics” and “Principle Sensors Engineer.”
Lab126 is working on different robots than the one Amazon already uses in the warehouses. The e-commerce giant owns a subsidiary called Amazon Robotics, which develops and deploys robots in Amazon’s warehouses to move around goods. It was originated from a company called Kiva Systems, which Amazon bought in 2012 for US$775 million.
As the company’s plan, the home robot will be tested in employees’ homes by the end of this year, and be introduced to all consumers in 2019. Amazon declined to comment on the story.
Home robot isn’t a brand new concept in the market. iRobot has introduced Roomba, a cleaning robotic vacuum, and has sold more than 20 million since launched in 2002.
Other smart home players including Sony and LG also introduced something robotic for homeowners. LG showcased a robot called Cloi at CES 2018, while Sony presented a robotic dog called Aibo, which can do simple moves to entertain users.
Considering that Amazon owns a voice assistant, the computer vision technology, machine learning technologies and the cloud service AWS, if the story becomes true, a mobile Alexa robot that helps tasks at home might really appear in the market soon.