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Astro Robot

  • 05 Oct 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Recently, Amazon has unveiled its ‘Astro’ home robot, which is designed to help customers with a range of tasks like home monitoring and keeping in touch with family.

  • However, civil society has highlighted the concerns of privacy issues of 24×7 surveillance.

Key Points

  • About Astro Robot:
    • Astro is primed to be a home security device. It is designed to move around the home and keep a check on pets, and detect something unusual in the absence of the owner.
    • It comes with a “periscope” camera that pops up from its head and can be used to keep an eye on the home.
    • It is basically a combination of the Echo Show (smart speaker) and sophisticated Ring security camera integrated into one single device.
    • The device captures live videos, recognises faces, plays music or videos, and delivers a beer across the home.
    • It can recognise the faces of people and analyse them until it figures out if it’s a family member or an outsider.
  • Issues Related to Privacy:
    • Civil society is worried that the amount of data Amazon gets to fetch with the Astro, giving the company easy access to the household,
      • This is going one step beyond Alexa which had access to vocals and sound until now.
      • Amazon has asserted that Astro stores face data locally rather than in the cloud, but it is still a privacy concern as with any internet-connected device.
    • There are concerns of stealing or hacking of the device. Due to this, the perpetrator can get access to the digital map that the robot creates of someone’s home.
    • The prime concern, in the long-run, could contribute to greater public acceptance of Artificial Intelligence-powered surveillance.
      • In the past, hackers have managed to access Ring cameras, used in the devices of Amazon technologies.
  • Other Recent Experiments:
    • Softbank earlier this year “suspended” the production of Pepper, one of the first humanoid robots able to “read” emotions.
    • Jibo has started an Indiegogo project, which aims to build a world’s first social robot for the home.

Robotics

  • About:
    • Robotics is a branch of engineering that involves the conception, design, manufacture and operation of robots.
      • Robot is any automatically operated machine that replaces human effort.
    • The objective of the robotics field is to create intelligent machines that can assist humans in a variety of ways.
  • Advantages:
    • In many situations robots can increase productivity, efficiency, quality and consistency of products.
    • Robots can work in environments which are unsafe for humans as they don’t have the same environmental requirements that humans do – such as lighting, air conditioning or noise protection.
    • Robots have some sensors/actuators which are more capable than humans.
      • Unlike humans, robots don’t get bored. Until they wear out, they can do the same thing again and again.
      • They can be very accurate – to fractions of an inch (as is needed for example in manufacturing of microelectronics).
  • Disadvantages:
    • The use of robots can create economic problems if they replace human jobs.
    • Robots can only do what they are told to do – they can’t improvise
    • This means that safety procedures are needed to protect humans and other robots.
    • Although robots can be superior to humans in some ways, they are less dexterous than humans.
      • Robotics lack emotional intelligence, which plays a critical role in intense situations.
    • Often robots are very costly – in terms of the initial cost, maintenance, the need for extra components and the need to be programmed to do the task.
    • Surveillance concerns pose a problem of entering a privacy nightmare.

Source: IE

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