Dyson Invests in Robotic Vision Research

Could a major investment in robotic vision finally lead to the proliferation of helpful machines?

dyon, robotics, google, Sir James Dyson, famous for his highly stylized, powerful vacuum cleaners, has pledged $8M toward the creation of a new robotic research lab at London’s Imperial College.

With their investments, Imperial College has already begun the process of hiring 15 researchers who will work to advance the state of the art in robotic vision. “My generation believed the world would be overrun by robots by the year 2014. We now have the mechanical and electronic capabilities, but robots still lack understanding – seeing and thinking in the way we do,” said Dyson.

Although some might think it strange that Mr. Dyson is showing interest in the world of robotics, it’s not the inventor’s first foray into the field. Back in 2001 Dyson came a hair’s-breadth away from debuting a robotic vacuum, the DC06. 

Containing 3 computers, 2,000 components, 27 circuit boards and 70 sensors, the DC06 was a $6,000 cleaner that was abandoned at the last minute due its cost and weight.

dyson, robotics, googleWith that back story in mind it only seems natural that Dyson would be interested in robotics research, particularly with regard to how robots could be used to better our lives by freeing us of our chores and ensuring we’re safe in old age.

While it isn’t likely that any major advance in robotics is around the corner, Dyson’s renewed interest in robotic technology could spell the beginning of a major push towards the commercialization of extremely helpful machines. When coupled with Google’s recent acquisition of Boston Dynamics and Japan’s SCHAFT (the winner of DARPA’s Robotics Challenge), big things should be expected from robotics researchers in the coming decade.

Image Courtesy of Dyson