Amazon Used to Sell Its Astro Robots to Companies for $2,350. Now, It’s Going to Remotely Deactivate Them

  • The robots will stop working in September.

  • Amazon will issue refunds and make it easy to recycle them.

  • It seems that there’s no option to unlock the robot to continue to use it at home.

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The Astro robot is one of Amazon's most unique devices. This small robot is equipped with Alexa and wheels and can monitor the home, follow people, and detect noises and intruders. It also made a (short) appearance in the business world. Launched in November 2023 for $2,350, along with a subscription to access additional features, the enterprise version of the robot was designed for surveillance and to detect suspicious activities.

However, it seems that the business version of Astro didn’t perform well. Amazon has decided to make it inoperable as of September 2024. In order words, the robots will literally stop working after the company remotely deactivates them.

What happened? As The Verge reports, Lindo St. Angel, Amazon’s VP of hardware engineering, recently sent an internal memo confirming that the company has chosen to shut down the Astro for Business program to “focus our efforts entirely on building the best consumer robotics products for the home.”

It’s unclear how many of these Astro robots Amazon sold to businesses. However, we do know that they were priced at $2,350, along with a $99 monthly subscription for Virtual Security Guard. Additionally, users had to pay for Ring Protect Pro ($20) and Astro Secure ($60).

Say goodbye to WALL-E. Amazon has also emailed Astro for Business customers to inform them that they’re proud of what they’ve achieved but have decided to end the program. “In the coming weeks, Amazon will fully refund all Astro for Business device purchases to the original payment method,” Amazon’s email reads.

But not just that. The company also adds:

“We are also adding a $300 credit to your Amazon account to help support a replacement solution for your workplace, as well as issuing you an automatic invite to the Astro Day 1 Editions Program if you’d like to continue your journey with Astro in your home.”

Amazon’s solution to ending the program is simple: Make the robots inoperable. “On 9/25, your Astro for Business device will no longer function and your personal data will be deleted from the device... We encourage you to recycle your Astro for Business device and accessories through the Amazon Recycling Program,” the email continues.

Amazon Astro for Business Astro for Business. | Image: Amazon

Isn’t there another way? Instead of remotely deactivating the devices and rendering them inoperative, there should be a more environmentally friendly alternative. Given that Amazon is promoting Astro for home use and even providing incentives for Astro for Business users to purchase the home version, some suggest that the company should consider unlocking the robots for home use. It's very likely that the company could update the robots for home use using the same method it's going to use to remotely deactivate them.

Otherwise, although we don’t know how many Astro for Business robots have been sold and how many will be recycled, several 20-pound robots with advanced technology and components will likely gather dust in a neglected box in a warehouse.

Image | Amazon

Related | A South Korean Local Government Hired an AI Robot for Administrative Tasks. It ‘Took Its Own Life’ After a Year

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