Amazon’s Astro robot is now a roving security guard for business

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Astro for Business is aimed at retailers, manufacturers, and other industries as a security guard that can patrol for break-ins and other threats.
Amazon

Amazon has a new job for its Astro robot: A roving security guard in stores to detect break-ins and other threats.

The company on Thursday announced Astro for Business, a version of its household robot that it’s framing as a crime prevention tool for retailers, manufacturers and a range of other industries, in spaces that are up to 5,000 square feet. Astro for Business is launching only in the U.S. to start, and it comes at a steep price point of $2,349.99.

Amazon unveiled Astro, its first home robot, in Sept. 2021. The squat, three-wheeled device can roll around the house to answer Alexa voice commands, and it has a 42-inch periscope camera that allows it to see over countertops or other obstacles to check if a stove has been left on, among other tasks.

Two years on from its debut, the original Astro, which costs $1,599, is available in limited quantities and on an invite-only basis.

Amazon announced last Sept. at its annual hardware and software event that it was testing Astro with some businesses, and on Thursday, the company said has seen some traction from companies in health and wellness, food and beverage, construction and other sectors.

“We have been testing Astro in a variety of businesses and have seen firsthand how Astro’s intelligent motion helped provide visibility on blind spots and areas that existing stationary cameras couldn’t see, giving business owners peace of mind because their inventory and property are protected, even when they aren’t there,” Anthony Robson, head of product for Amazon Astro, said in a statement.

Amazon pointed to data from the National Retail Federation, a trade association and advocacy group, showing that shrink, which includes shoplifting and organized retail crime, reached nearly $100 billion in 2022. Major retailers have routinely expressed concerns of theft eating into their profits, but there is little data to prove it, and other factors may be contributing to the issue, such as employee theft or lost or damaged goods, CNBC previously reported.

Amazon is also offering a suite of security products in tandem with Astro for Business for an added fee, such as Ring Protect Pro, which can link Astro to Ring sensors and motion detectors. A virtual security guard service allows Astro to notify remote security centers of a potential threat, such as an unrecognized person, breaking glass or smoke. Remote security agents can then view live footage and call police or emergency responders.

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