Vacuum entrepreneur to announce new £5m robotics laboratory in London
The British entrepreneur Sir James Dyson has outlined his vision for a new era of household android robots that will be able to clean the windows, guard property – and, presumably, vacuum the carpet.
This week the inventor will announce the creation of a new £5 million robotics centre at Imperial College London, and he says a technological revolution is coming that will soon see every home in Britain filled with “robots that understand the world around them”.
His team of British-based engineers are locked in a race to build the first multi-purpose household android with scientists in Japan, where researchers at Waseda University have already unveiled the Twendy-One robot that can obey voice commands, cook and provide nursing care.
And competition also comes from the search engine giant Google, which has recently been on a robotics firm buying spree – including Japanese robotics company Schaft and military manufacturer Boston Dynamics.
Sir James, whose firm employs nearly 2,000 engineers and scientists, told the Sunday Times the new centre would aim to overcome the issue of robotic “vision” – allowing androids to see what is around them and respond accordingly.
He said previous systems of robot vision were too complicated, adding that Dyson is “almost there” in producing an automatic vacuum cleaner with both good navigations skills and good suction.
“You will send up a robot to clean windows. It will know where it is going. It will know how to clean the windows. And it will know when it is finished,” he said.
The entrepreneur wants to expand his company’s workforce to “compete in world trade”, and said that Dyson’s research into small, powerful motors and lighter materials meant it was well-placed to develop the best in robotics technologies.