Will Amazon’s next innovation be a robot servant?
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Will Amazon’s next innovation be a robot servant?

Ecommerce giant Amazon is no stranger to innovation: the company redefined reading with its Kindle products and introduced artificial intelligence (AI) into the home with its Echo virtual personal assistant (VPA). Now, it might have another futuristic development in the works: your very own robot.

Amazon’s share price has appreciated by 31% year to date

graph 2504 amazon

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

Bloomberg reports that Amazon “has embarked on an ambitious, top-secret plan to build a domestic robot, according to people familiar with the plans”. The project – codenamed Vesta after the Roman goddess of hearth, home and family – is being overseen by Gregg Zehr, who heads up Amazon’s Lab126 hardware R&D division. It’s been in operation for a few years, according to Bloomberg, but this year could be significant: the division has ramped up hiring for positions like “software engineer, robotics,” and “principle sensors engineer”.

According to Bloomberg’s source, which remains anonymous, Amazon plans to begin “seeding” robots in employees’ homes by the end of this year. They could be on the market for the rest of us by 2019, assuming the timeline doesn’t change and no unforeseen obstacles present themselves. The company declined to comment on the “rumours and speculation.”

Domestic robots have been a source of interest for fiction fans and futurists alike. The promise of robotic companions has been present in everything from Sylvester Stallone’s boxing series Rocky to recently remade science fiction epic Lost in Space. What might they actually look like though? For now, Amazon is keeping tight-lipped.

The most obvious example of a current home robot is iRobot Corp.’s Roomba, which has sold more than 20 million units. But that’s just a smart hoover. Research and Markets suggests that the home robot market could be worth $15 billion a year by 2023… if the rumours around Amazon’s latest innovation is true, expect Amazon to take a big part of it!

Disclosure

Dominion holds Amazon in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.


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