Within hours of Amazon introducing its new personal robot, Astro, leaked internal documents revealed that the $999 Alexa on wheels is allegedly plagued with problems including an obvious inability to navigate stairs. More specifically, Astro has a tendency to hurl itself down them, which is not exactly great considering the little guy isn’t the sturdiest thing.
The internal documents also revealed a slew of alleged privacy issues, but sources say those aren’t exactly a major concern at the moment because, to be any sort of surveillance threat, Astro would need to stop killing himself first. Via Vice:
“Astro is terrible and will almost certainly throw itself down a flight of stairs if presented the opportunity. The person detection is unreliable at best, making the in-home security proposition laughable,” a source who worked on the project said. “The device feels fragile for something with an absurd cost. The mast has broken on several devices, locking itself in the extended or retracted position, and there’s no way to ship it to Amazon when that happens.”
“They’re also pushing it as an accessibility device but with the masts breaking and the possibility that at any given moment it’ll commit suicide on a flight of stairs, it’s, at best, absurdist nonsense and marketing and, at worst, potentially dangerous for anyone who’d actually rely on it for accessibility purposes,” the source said.
Following Vice‘s report on Astro’s alleged suicidal tendencies, Amazon released a statement to The Verge disputing the claims and asserting that the robot is a good, solid boy who doesn’t fall down the stairs.
“These characterizations of Astro’s performance, mast, and safety systems are simply inaccurate,” Amazon said. “Astro went through rigorous testing on both quality and safety, including tens of thousands of hours of testing with beta participants. This includes comprehensive testing on Astro’s advanced safety system, which is designed to avoid objects, detect stairs, and stop the device where and when necessary.”
However, as The Verge notes, the leaked documents “recontextualizes” the invite-only process that will allow users to get their hands on Astro. The process reportedly includes a survey, and one of the questions asks what type of stairs do you have in your house. We’re guessing the correct answer is “none.”