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In brief: Seven months ago, Amazon took the natural next step of building out its Astro household robot by offering a business version that focused on security. The company is now abruptly shutting down the product, saying it wants to focus more on the consumer side. The decision shows how difficult it can be to expand in the competitive robotics field, even when you are a company as big as Amazon.

Seven months after launch, Amazon is discontinuing its Astro for Business robot on September 25, 2024. Customers who purchased the device will be refunded and given a $300 credit “to help support a replacement solution for your workplace,” according to an email sent to customers, and Astro Secure subscribers will no longer be charged any subscription fees.

The company declined to say how many customers are impacted by the decision.

The Day 1 Edition Amazon Astro household robot will not be impacted by the business version’s discontinuation. According to a spokesperson, the reason Amazon is pivoting from the business solution is to better focus on the household robot’s feature set. “We’re excited about the in-home experiences we’re inventing for Astro, and look forward to sharing more in the future,” they said.

Astro for Business was a security solution combining robotics, smart security, and AI. Its target audiences were small- and medium-sized businesses, particularly retailers, that were suffering losses due to security issues, which had amounted to nearly $100 billion in 2022 according to the National Retail Federation.

It was able to map up to 5,000 square feet, and came equipped with live view, two-way talk, an HD periscope camera with night vision, and visual ID that could receive smart alerts for unrecognized persons. There were also separately sold subscriptions that offered additional security features, such as smart alerts, custom patrol routes, and scheduled patrols. It retailed starting at $2,349.99.

Its introduction was the logical next step for Amazon’s Astro household robot, which launched in 2021 and offers home monitoring and other tasks such as establishing routines and reminders and playing music and TV shows all the while rolling around the house.

Amazon shuts down its Astro business robot with an eye on expanding the household version

The speediness with which Amazon abandoned Astro for Business suggests that it may not have gained enough popularity to justify the growing costs of this sector, which include ongoing labor shortages, the relative cost advantage of human security guards, and the increasing investment necessary to keep up with the technology.

There is also plenty of competition for security robots. Cobalt Robotics, Knightscope, and SMP Robotics are all active in the business security robot space.

Also, it is likely true that Amazon sees greater potential in the consumer robotics market, with there being any number of ways to expand or augment its capabilities. It could become a more comprehensive smart home hub and offer more sophisticated security features, for example. More fanciful theories include offering increased immersive experiences, such as augmented reality features for remote assistance or virtual tours, and incorporating sensors to monitor the health of family members to serve as a form of elder care.

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