• 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.

Important points:

  • 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.


  • 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.



  • 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).


  • 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.


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