Today Dyson announced plans to invest £5 million in a robotics lab at the Imperial College, London focusing on vision systems to improve robots abilities to adapt and interact with their surroundings.
Dyson, the long standing innovators of vacuum cleaners have thus far not been able to break into the robotics market, with iRobots Roomba taking the centre stage for robot domestic cleaners and the recently announced Scooba the hard-floor alternative. They did develop a robot vacuum back in 2001 but due to its complexity it was thought to be too bulky and costly for the market and the plans were scrapped, however this didn’t stop Dyson continuing testing with robotic assistants, as they’ve been in partnership with the Imperial College since 2005.
The investment is set to span 5 years, paying for 15 scientists and some of Dyson’s own engineers developing machine vision techniques to improve the abilities of not only robotic vacuums but other domestic robots. The current head of the robot vision efforts at the department of computing, Professor Davison is an expert in SLAM using single camera systems has said:
“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.”
Earlier this year Dyson had already announced a huge investment in its research centre with plans to hire 3,000 more engineers, planning their largest expansion in the companies history. There’s no doubt the robotic efforts from the company are in full swing and hopefully we’ll see some interesting results from them.