For Amazon’s latest hardware trick, the company has apparently been working on a home robot under the codename, “Vesta.” That nugget comes via Bloomberg sources, who report that the online retail giant expects to start trialing the device in employee homes this year, with plans to launch it to consumers as early as 2019.
The project has apparently been in the works for a number of years, but things are finally starting to take off, as the company lists openings for a number of gigs in and around robotics, with titles like “Software Engineer, Robotics.” No word on precisely what such a robot would do, and Amazon, naturally, isn’t commenting.
The home market has been a tough one for the robotics industry to crack — a feat not really accomplished by any devices, beyond the Roomba and derivative cleaning robots. A number of assistant robots have bubbled up over the years, essentially adding moving parts to a smart speaker category. Certainly Alexa functionality is a given for whatever Amazon might be working on — even the Roomba has added that feature in the last year.
Other companies, like Sphero spin-off Misty Robotics, are hoping to bring more advanced functionality to the market, though they’ve given themselves what equates to a 10-year runway. But while the industry appears bullish about the future of robots in the home, it may well take a tech giant like Amazon to really crack the code, as it did a few years back with the Echo.
Jeff Bezos, of course, is a well-known friend to robots. He’s been seen around town with the likes of SpotMini recently, and before that, the company acquired Kiva Systems to form Amazon Robotics. That department, however, has been primarily focused on fulling Amazon’s own shipping and logistics requirements with industrial warehouse robots.
Vesta, on the other hand, is said to be the product of Lab126 — the Amazon R&D center that gave the world the Echo and a bevy of Fire devices.