Dyson invests stg£5m to develop the domestic robots of the future

10 Feb 2014

Inventor and entrepreneur Sir James Dyson shows off an impeller unit

Engineering powerhouse Dyson is to invest stg£5m into a joint robotics lab with Imperial College London, leading to a new generation of domestic robots that will understand the world around them.

“My generation believed the world would be overrun by robots by the year 2014,” said entrepreneur and investor Sir James Dyson.

“We now have the mechanical and electronic capabilities, but robots still lack understanding – seeing and thinking in the way we do. Mastering this will make our lives easier and lead to previously unthinkable technologies.”

Dyson has been researching robotics for the past 15 years. Since 2005, it has been working jointly with Imperial College and Prof Andrew Davison to develop machines that use vision to logically navigate their surroundings.

Robotic vacuum cleaners are one area of study, alongside research into other types of domestic robots.

An eye to the future

The Dyson Robotics Laboratory at Imperial College will initially recruit 15 scientists; including five PhD researchers, six post-doctoral researchers and space for Dyson research, software and electronics engineers. Imperial is currently recruiting for the positions.

Davison, currently professor of robot vision at the Department of Computing, will be the director of the Dyson Robotics Laboratory.

“A truly intelligent domestic robot needs to complete complex everyday tasks while adapting to a constantly changing environment. We will research and develop systems that allow machines to both understand and perceive their surroundings – using vision to achieve it,” Davison said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years