An Amazon Kiva robot, which helps fill orders by bringing shelves of merchandise to Amazon Associates. Photo: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Amazon is secretly testing robots for domestic use, using the same research division that created the Echo and Fire device families, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and Brad Stone report.

Yes, but: Amazon is catching up in its pursuit of home robots, not leading the wave. History is replete with latecomers who won anyway, and we don't know what Amazon will actually unveil. But unless it is about to surprise all the private and university labs on the planet, Amazon is actually behind the curve of other countries and companies.

Details:

  • "Codenamed 'Vesta,' after the Roman goddess of the hearth, home and family, the project is overseen by Gregg Zehr, who runs Amazon’s Lab126 hardware research and development division based in Sunnyvale, California..."
  • "The Vesta project originated a few years ago, but this year Amazon began to aggressively ramp up hiring. There are dozens of listings on the Lab 126 Jobs page for openings like 'Software Engineer, Robotics” and “Principle Sensors Engineer.'"
  • "People briefed on the plan say the company hopes to begin seeding the robots in employees’ homes by the end of this year, and potentially with consumers as early as 2019..."

Why it matters: Amazon is stepping into a newish, already existing market for home, socially interactive robots, says Henny Admoni, a robotics professor at Carnegie Mellon. "A lot of people are excited about them, but I wouldn't say Amazon is the first," Admoni told Axios. 

  • Japan, with its fast-aging population, is ahead of everyone in the invention and deployment of robots that work with humans. Most of them are "care robots," and are used mostly in nursing homes
  • In the U.S. market, Amazon's Vesta joins "Kuri," an $899 roaming robot that can be reserved here (its founders showed it around TedX in Vancouver last week).
  • There is also "Jibo," which also costs $899, does not roam, but is available now.
  • Admoni says none of the currently available robots is as good as social robots need to be since they do not truly understand social norms.

Go deeper: The anti-robot uprising is coming

Go deeper

Trump tightens screws on ByteDance to sell Tiktok

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump added more pressure Friday night on China-based TikTok parent ByteDance to exit the U.S., ordering it to divest all assets related to the U.S. operation of TikTok within 90 days.

Between the lines: The order means ByteDance must be wholly disentangled from TikTok in the U.S. by November. Trump had previously ordered TikTok banned if ByteDance hadn't struck a deal within 45 days. The new order likely means ByteDance has just another 45 days after that to fully close the deal, one White House source told Axios.

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Harris: "Women are going to be a priority" in Biden administration

Sen. Kamala Harris at an event in Wilmington, Del. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In her first sit-down interview since being named Joe Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris talked about what she'll do to fight for women if elected VP, and how the Democrats are thinking about voter turnout strategies ahead of November.

What they're saying: "In a Biden-Harris administration women are going to be a priority, understanding that women have many priorities and all of them must be acknowledged," Harris told The 19th*'s Errin Haines-Whack.