Amazon To Discontinue Astro Security Robot

End of the line for Amazon’s Astro security guard robot for businesses, which will be bricked in September this year

Amazon is winding down its Astro for Business security robot, and will intentionally brick the robot and offer refunds for customers.

Geekwire, citing an internal email, first reported that Amazon had informed customers and employees on Wednesday morning that it plans to discontinue its Astro for Business program.

Amazon had in November 2023 announced the “Astro for Business” for the US market, which it touted as a security solution for small and medium-sized businesses that combined robotics, smart security, and artificial intelligence (AI).”

Amazon Astro for Business. Image credit: Amazon
Amazon Astro for Business. Image credit: Amazon

Astro robot

The Astro Robot had been introduced by Amazon back in September 2021, and back then it said the moving robot was designed to wheel itself around a user’s home, or keep an eye on intruders, or even keep children occupied.

The Astro robot came with digital eyes on a rotating screen mounted on wheels, namely two primary wheels for motion and a third, smaller wheel at the back to help with navigation around the house at a speed on one metre per second.

A periscope camera could rise out of Astro’s head to take a good look at things above floor level, such as what foods and spices are on a person’s kitchen shelves for example.

Amazon Astro

Astro was also equipped with Alexa, so the robot can follow the user from room to room while playing their favourite shows, podcasts, or music.

It could also find a user in a house in order to deliver reminders, let them know that a timer went off, take a family photo, and notify the user of incoming Alexa calls.

However there was questions over the commercial success of the Astro robot, and some media suggested it has only sold a couple of hundred units.

This could be due to its rather expensive price tag of $1,599 for the household edition.

Astro for Business

Two years later in November 2023, Amazon announced “Astro for Business” for the US market only, at a significantly increased price of $2,349.99.

Amazon essentially had wanted businesses to use its Astro robot as a roving security guard in their stores to detect break-ins and other threats.

But according to the Geekwire report, Amazon has this week informed customers and employees that it plans to discontinue its Astro for Business program, to help it focus on its home version of Astro.

Astro for Business robots will stop working (i.e. it will be bricked) on 25 September 2024, Amazon reportedly said in a separate email to customers, encouraging them to recycle the devices.

Customer refunds

Businesses will receive full refunds for the original $2,349.99 cost of the device, plus a $300 credit “to help support a replacement solution for your workplace,” the email reportedly said.

They will also receive refunds for unused, pre-paid Astro Secure subscription fees.

Amazon reportedly is making no layoffs associated with the Astro for Business closure, but in an internal email to Amazon’s consumer robotics organisation Wednesday morning, Lindo St. Angel, VP of Amazon Devices, was quoted by Geekwire as writing that he remains a “big believer” in the long-term benefits of robots for Amazon’s customers, noting that advances in generative artificial intelligence add to the potential opportunity.

“I am increasingly convinced the progress we’re making in home robotics is where we should focus our resources,” St. Angel reportedly wrote in the email to staff. “To do this, and accelerate our progress further, we’ve made the decision to wind down the Astro for Business program to focus our efforts entirely on building the best consumer robotics products for the home.”