Just four years after kicking off the smart speaker craze with the Echo, Amazon is reportedly building robots for the home as its next major venture. According to Bloomberg, the top-secret project — codenamed “Vesta” internally after the Roman goddess of the hearth — is being developed by the Lab126 hardware R&D division in California. Lab126 is the same division that produced the Echo, Fire TV set-top boxes and even the Fire Phone.
While sources claim that the project was initiated years ago, Amazon began ramping up hiring this year, with dozens of job listings appearing on the Lab126 website in recent weeks. If everything goes accordingly, Amazon could start sending robots home with employees by the end of 2018, with the possibility of a public launch in 2019.
The report doesn’t have many details about the robots themselves, but sources speculate that the Vesta could be a “mobile Alexa,” moving with owners through their home and assisting them when an Echo device isn’t within earshot. Prototypes of the Vesta reportedly come equipped with advanced cameras and vision software that let them navigate through homes. Think of it as a Roomba that will give you a weather report (but won’t clean your floor).
Whether the idea of having a small robot companion follow you around your home delights you or terrifies you, don’t get your hopes up too high for a personal assistant on par with what you’ve seen in science-fiction movies. Amazon’s Vesta won’t be able to make you a sandwich or bring you your slippers in the morning.
Rather, the Vesta will likely be an Echo with wheels. There is certainly value (and intrigue) in a mobile Echo though. Imagine having a little mechanical buddy which can navigate your home without running into walls and answer your questions anywhere you go. At the right price, it could be another success for Amazon.