Tech Digest daily roundup: Meet Astro, Amazon’s house robot


Amazon is launching Astro, its first household robot, powered by its Alexa smart home technology. The company said it can be remote-controlled when not at home, to check on pets, people, or home security. It can also patrol a home automatically and send owners a notification if it detects something unusual. Amazon said it was more than “Alexa with wheels” and had been programmed with a range of movements and expressions to give it personality. It demonstrated asking Astro to “beatbox” – and the robot bopped its head and made expressions while playing hip-hop beats. Amazon was also keen to pre-empt privacy concerns. It said Astro can be set with “out of bounds” zones, so it cannot go into certain areas, or could be set to “do not disturb”. It also features buttons to turn off cameras and microphones – though it loses its ability to move around when they are switched off. BBC 

Amazon’s new robot Astro, an Alexa-enabled device with a screen for a ‘face’, that drives around a house is allegedly “terrible and will almost certainly throw itself down a flight of stairs”, according to one developer who worked on the project. The Astro robot includes all the traditional features of an Echo device – playing TV shows, displaying information, and making video calls – but is also designed to follow users and navigate around pets and other obstacles using front-facing cameras and machine learning. The robot does this by mapping a user’s home, creating a heat map of points where the robot is likely to be stuck or hit by humans, such as hallways, doors, and kitchens. Independent 

Rolls-Royce has revealed its first battery-powered vehicle as part of ambitions to take its fleet fully-electrified within a decade. The BMW-owned car maker said deliveries of the Spectre would start by the end of 2023. Torsten Müller-Ötvös, chief executive of Rolls-Royce, described the car as “fulfilling a prophecy” made by one of the company’s founders, Charles Rolls, more than a century ago. “[Mr Rolls] said the ‘electric car is perfectly noiseless and clean, there is no smell or vibration. But for now I do not anticipate they will be very serviceable – at least for many years to come’,” he said. Telegraph

Given that the Google Pixel 6 will come packing the company’s own supercharged Tensor processor, the best cameras ever to grace a Pixel device, a swanky new design and a whole lot more, you would be forgiven for assuming it will cost the earth. According to the latest leaks though, it will be priced far lower than we could have ever anticipated. According to a source who got in touch with YouTuber M. Brandon Lee, pricing information from an unnamed European carrier lists information for devices codenamed oriole and raven – monikers known to be the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, respectively. The source states that according to the carrier’s information, the Google Pixel 6 could launch as low as €649 (around $758 / £560 / AU$1,045), which is around the same price as the Pixel 5’s launch price. What HiFi

Two new species of dinosaur that may have once roamed what is now the Isle of Wight 125 million years ago have been discovered. The two carnivorous reptiles are thought to have been nine metres long (29.5ft) – about the same length as a Stegosaurus – with skulls like crocodiles. One has been described as a “hell heron”, with scientists describing its hunting style like a fearsome version of the modern day bird. One expert hailed the discovery of the two specimens in quick succession as a “huge surprise”, but said palaeontologists had suspected for decades that the remains of such dinosaurs could be found on the island. Yahoo!

Ceratosuchops braincase
The Ceratosuchops’ braincase (Chris Barker)


Chris Price
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