Elite AgentTECH + SOCIAL

R2-D2: Amazon’s Astro robot is getting its own ChatGPT brain

Unlike R2-D2, who needed a protocol droid like C-3PO to translate its beeps, Amazon’s improved Astro home robot will soon be able to speak your language right out of the box, thanks to a new ChatGPT-like brain.

The first Astro robot was created to act as a three-wheeled assistant that could do things like, tell you the weather forecast, remind you about upcoming events and even recognise members of your family, or check if you’ve left the stove on.

According to Business Insider, who obtained documents from Amazon, the new version of Astro will take the robot to the next level, giving it its own brain with ChatGPT-like capabilities.

This means it will also be able to understand what it observes and respond to things more intelligently.

Powered by what Amazon labels its ‘Burnham’ technology, which adds a layer of “intelligence and a conversational spoken interface”, the robot “remembers what it saw and understood,” and derives meaning from those interactions.

In the same way, R2-D2 acted as a helper to Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, the robot will also be able to do a range of other human-like functions that can help owners.

According to the internal Amazon documents, if Burnham finds a stove left burning or a water faucet running unattended, it will find the owner and bring it to their attention.

If an elderly man slips in the kitchen, Burnham can check to make sure he’s ok, and call others to come and help. 

If it’s an emergency situation, Burnham will automatically call emergency services. The robot’s owners can also ask it where they left their keys or whether the kitchen window was left open last night.

The robot can also monitor whether the kids had friends over after school.

“To put it simply: Our robot has a strong body. What we need next is a brain,” the documents said. 

“A robot with Burnham would understand — in the same way a human understands — the thousands of things that happen within a home every day without having to explicitly code for each one because that ‘common-sense’ knowledge is implicit in the data the language model was trained on.”

While the first version of Astro has been met with lukewarm reviews and is still invite-only, 18 months after its launch, Amazon will continue to invest heavily in future generations of the technology.

An Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider that Astro is “off to a very promising start” and that invite requests “remain strong,” without providing specific numbers.

“We’re excited by the potential of generative AI technologies, and are looking forward to using these technologies to invent new experiences for Astro that will delight customers and make their lives even easier in the future,” the spokesperson said.

Amazon is convinced that Burnham is a significant upgrade and expects this to the first of many more versions.

“Burnham’s friendly personality, social awareness, and conversational fluency ensure it is exceptionally useful and would be welcome as a junior family member in any home,” Amazon said.

Show More

Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a freelance journalist specialising in finance and real estate.