Amazon is building a home robot: report

Think Alexa, but on wheels

Amazon Echo 2nd Gen

Amazon is planning to build a domestic robot, according to a new report from Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman.

Citing people familiar with the plans, Gurman reports the project is codenamed ‘Vesta,’ after the Roman goddess of the hearth, home and family (known by Hestia in Greek mythology).

The tech giant will reportedly begin testing the robots in employee homes by the end of 2018 and possibly move to consumer trials in early 2019 — though there’s still room for the project to be killed off entirely if trials don’t go well.

Though Bloomberg received no clear indication of what the robots will do, the publication’s sources say the Vesta could be a mobile Alexa, following users around. Prototypes have “advanced cameras” and computer vision software for self-navigation.

The project is reportedly overseen by Gregg Zehr, who runs Amazon’s Lab126 hardware research and development division. Lab126 is responsible for devices like the Echo speakers and Fire tablets.

According to the report, the project began a few years ago but Amazon only began to aggressively hire related positions this year. Currently, there are dozens of listings on the Lab126 jobs page for positions like ‘Software Engineer, Robotics.’

Domestic robots of the kind Amazon is reportedly building are still rare. LG showed off its ‘Cloi’ robot at CES this past year, but its repeated failures made it clear why consumers are not yet interested in shelling out for a self-navigating robot in the home.

Still, Research and Markets believes the consumer robot market will be worth roughly $15 billion USD by the year 2023, so it’s no wonder Amazon is aiming to get in on the ground floor.

Source: Bloomberg