Photo: Dan Seifer/The Verge

By: Nick Gambino

The future is robots…if you ask most major tech companies. If they’re not talking about AI, they’re talking about robots. In fact, the two are intertwined.

Just like VR, it wasn’t until recently that robots actually advanced enough to be useful. Take Amazon’s newest robot, Astro. This cute little guy is programmed to follow you around your home and keep an eye on your house when you’re not there. He’ll even serve you drinks when you’re lazy.

While Astro is certainly useful, he’s still far from a full-blown assistant who can do everything you don’t want to do. I’ll be all in on robots when they can do the laundry, pick up my kids and field business calls.

But that’s a long way off. For now, we have to settle with Amazon’s new little robotic helper. The armless little guy is 17 inches tall and acts, essentially, as an Echo on wheels. You can set reminders, which makes it good for elderly users who might need a nudge to take their medication.

It’s also touted as a companion who can keep you company. You can ask Astro to beatbox for you or answer simple questions like, “What’s your favorite animal?” Again, it’s a lot like an Echo on wheels.

The thing that makes it more than a mobile Echo is its surveillance capabilities. You can use the little robot to keep an eye on your home when you’re not there or unwilling to get out of bed. You can even get Astro to check in on things like your dog barking or a noise disturbance downstairs. Or, if you’re really lazy, a crying baby. Though, I suggest putting those two legs to work for you in that scenario.

Astro also has a built-in carrying tray to deliver things like a remote caddy. A USB port allows it to act as a roaming charger or anything else you can think to do with that port.

I think the biggest turn-off when considering buying this little robot is the price tag. If a roaming robot who surveils and acts as a virtual assistant (Echo) is worth five figures to you then you might be one of the few who buys the Astro. If you’re invited.

You can purchase Astro for $999.99 on Amazon through invitation only.