Amazon’s Secret AI Project Burnham Leaked

Burnham is codename for an advanced Astro robot that’s more intelligent and can potentially solve problems in your home.

Business Insider has gained access to certain leaked documents that talk about an AI project called Burnham that will supplement Amazon’s home robot Astro. It’s aimed to “add a layer of intelligence and a conversational spoken interface.”

Here’s the Business Insider report (paywalled). Alternative coverage on The Verge and Yahoo! Finance.

Will this be ChatGPT on wheels or not, it’s truly an exciting idea to have a companion that retains information and can actively solve home-related mishaps.

Automation and robotics are increasingly becoming interwoven with artificial intelligence and machine learning. Understanding household contexts and remembering what it sees and understands will allow a robot like Astro to manage dialogs, perform redundant tasks, or even solve problems without supervision, such as calling 911 during an emergency.

The leaked documents pinpoint the issues that Burnham Astro could potentially solve, such as finding a stove left burning on or a faucet left dripping. It can then track the owner to send an alert. It can also help you find your keys or monitor what happened in your absence.

The thought that a single robot can do all this while being trained on an LLM and possibly connected to the internet gives smart homes a new meaning. Such a robot can indeed replace a combination of devices and the need to take multiple steps to set up a smart home monitoring or safety system in place.

Amazon is also training Burnham to identify and fix potential dangers, such as broken glass on the floor. These are complex problems and how far they have come with the model or the robot’s efficiency in carrying out tasks is unknown.

This technology is being dubbed “contextual understanding” by Amazon in the documents. The development is far from over. Whether it will beat the mediocre (and expensive) Astro-with-Alexa that’s invite only or not remains to be seen.

If Amazon’s solution to banking on this tech as soon as possible is to pour money into it, then it’s going to take more than a few years. A robot that can do complex tasks such as sweeping shards of broken glass safely before a human even notices it is not easy to build. The physics of how it will work alone will take years to research regardless of how many engineers and scientists are on it. What Amazon needs is a partnership. Not to mention the safety concerns homeowners will have in case there’s a mishap.

By Abhimanyu

Unwrapping the fast-evolving AI popular culture.