Amazon’s next Alexa-equipped gadget might be a personal robot that follows you around.
According to Bloomberg, Amazon’s working on a new Echo with premium sound quality to rival high-fidelity smart speakers such as Apple’s HomePod and the Google Home Max. That’s cool, but the more interesting Alexa device being worked on is a home robot.
The personal robot, codenamed “Vesta,” and rumored since last year, is reportedly gaining traction. Bloomberg says Amazon’s shifted engineers from other projects to work on the robot.
A prototype for the Vesta robot is said to be about “waist-high and navigate with the help of an array of computer-vision cameras” and have wheels.
“People familiar with the project speculated last year that the Vesta could be a sort of mobile Alexa, accompanying customers in parts of their home where they don’t have Echo devices.”
To control the ‘bot, users can reportedly use Alexa voice controls. “In an internal demonstration, an engineer summoned the machine with his voice,” Bloomberg reports.
Last year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shared a photo on Instagram of an Echo taped to a Roomba robot vacuum:
Could that monstrosity (reportedly made by his children) have been the inspiration for an Alexa-powered home robot? Only Bezos knows.
In its current form, the Alexa-powered robot isn’t ready for mass production yet. But given Amazon’s intense interest in cramming Alexa into every device it can — Alexa-powered wireless earbuds to rival AirPods are reportedly in the works — and its chops designing robots for its sprawling fulfillment centers and delivery drones, the company has the resources to figure things out.