By Dr. Kate Darling
Multinational tech giant Amazon recently released a household robot named Astro. The robot, currently available by invitation only, puts Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa, onto a dog-sized body with wheels that roams around your living space. Astro’s primary function is home monitoring and security. But just like real dogs have gone from guarding our houses to being part of the family, the raison d’être for household robots may eventually become companionship.
Futurists have long promised the advent of robots in our living spaces, but so far, home robots have been fairly limited. Single-task devices like robot vacuums are popular, as are the virtual assistants that sit on our desks as speakers. But Hollywood’s vision of all-purpose robot aides, caretakers, and sidekicks remains elusive. A few companies have tried to launch more general robot companions for the home, but without much success.