Burnham: The Amazon’s Secret AI Robot Project

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Amazon, the e-commerce giant and the maker of Alexa, is working on a secret project that could change the future of home automation. The project, codenamed Burnham, is an upgraded version of Astro, Amazon’s first home robot that was launched in 2022.

Astro is a mobile device that can move around the house and perform tasks such as checking on pets, monitoring security cameras, and playing music. However, Astro has limited capabilities and intelligence, and it cannot understand or respond to complex situations that happen in a busy household.

That’s where Burnham comes in. Burnham is a new AI technology that adds a layer of intelligence and a conversational spoken interface to Astro, making it more useful and more human-like. Burnham uses large language models (LLMs) and other advanced AI techniques to remember what it saw and understood, engage in Q&A dialogues, and take appropriate actions based on the context.

According to internal documents obtained by Insider, Burnham can do things like:

  • Find a stove left burning or a faucet left running and alert the owner

  • Check on someone who has fallen and call 911 if it’s an emergency

  • Help find keys or other misplaced items

  • Check if a window was left open overnight

  • Monitor whether kids had friends over after school

Burnham is designed to make Astro more like Rosie, the robotic housemaid from the animated series ‘The Jetsons.’ Rosie could do everything from cooking to cleaning to babysitting, and she had a personality and a sense of humor. Amazon’s vision is to create a comprehensive home automation solution that can understand and solve problems without explicit coding.

“To put it simply: Our robot has a strong body. What we need next is a brain,” one of the documents stated. “A robot with Burnham would understand — in the same way a human understands — the thousands of things that happen within a home every day without having to explicitly code for each one because that ‘common-sense’ knowledge is implicit in the data the language model was trained on.”

Burnham is not ready for prime time yet. The documents suggest that Amazon is still testing and refining the technology, and it’s unclear when it will be available to consumers. The documents also mention a hypothetical price of $995 for an Astro product powered by Burnham, with additional monthly fees for home monitoring features.

Burnham is part of Amazon’s broader initiative to leverage AI models for its products and services. The company has been investing heavily in AI research and development, hiring top talent and acquiring startups. Amazon has also been adding AI features to its existing products, such as Alexa, Kindle, and AWS.

Amazon’s secret AI robot project could be a game-changer for the home automation market, which is expected to grow from $72 billion in 2020 to $246 billion by 2025. However, Amazon will also face challenges and competition from other players in the field, such as Google, Apple, Samsung, and LG.

Amazon has not officially confirmed or commented on Burnham yet. The company is known for its secretive culture and its willingness to experiment with new ideas. Whether Burnham will become a reality or remain a fantasy remains to be seen.
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