Amazon’s VP of consumer robotics who oversees Astro is leaving the company

Amazon’s expensive and not-so-smart Astro robot still has yet to become available to buy without an invite, and now the executive who oversaw its development is leaving the company, Insider reports.

Ken Washington, Amazon’s VP of consumer robotics, is leaving the company to “pursue an external opportunity,” a spokesperson told GeekWire. He spent less than two years at the company, and his last day is May 18th.

Washington is part of Amazon’s Lab126 development team, and he’s not the only recent major departure from the company. The lab’s longtime president, Gregg Zehr, who oversaw development of the Kindle, and Tom Taylor, Amazon’s former SVP of Alexa, announced their retirements on the same day last August.

With Washington departing, his team will now be overseen by Amazon VP of engineering Lindo St. Angel. Last week, it was reported that Amazon is working on a new generative AI technology called Burnham, which could make Astro a whole lot smarter — or power an entirely new robot.

Previously, Washington worked for Ford as its VP of research and advanced engineering and later as chief technology officer. Washington had overseen development of self-driving cars and research projects, including an experimental Digit bipedal robot that was purposed for delivery and deployed out of a self-driving car.