Astro, the latest robotic home assistant to detect cats and dogs

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Astro, the latest robotic home assistant to detect cats and dogs

Astro, a robotic home assistant introduced last year by Amazon, has been given a series of new upgrades.

Astro, which costs $999.99, uses a periscope camera with an expandable field of view to proactively patrol your home and send you notifications when it detects something unusual. Videos taken by Astro can be saved in a user's Ring account.

Astro can now detect cats and dogs, according to a blog entry posted Wednesday by the world's largest online retailer.

If Astro does see your pet, it will send you a short video clip of what they are doing, so you can decide if you want to say hi or simply enjoy watching what they are up to while you're away, Amazon Devices and Services vice president Ken Washington wrote.

Astro will use artificial intelligence to alert you if a door or window is mistakenly left open or closed, by sending you a picture with text identifying the door or window in question.

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 more accurate, Washington said.

In the future, Amazon expects to give Astro the ability to learn about other parts of the home, such as appliances and pet food bowls.

Astro will be used in the coming months with a small group of small and medium-sized business customers to be used in conjunction with Ring's Virtual Security Guard.

Imagine you have a virtual security guard at your business and head home for the night, arming your Ring Alarm. If the Alarm goes off, Astro will investigate what happened while professional monitoring agents use Astro's cameras to observe what is happening in real time, Washington explained. 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. Amazon is testing a early version of a software development kit for Astro, which will be put in the hands of robotics students at the University of Maryland, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan later this year.

One critic has called the deal the most dangerous, threatening acquisition in the history of the e-commerce behemoth.