Dyson Building Robots That Are Capable of Household Chores

Dyson, the company that has made a name for itself for its “bagless” vacuum cleaners and “fanless design” that carry air purifiers, is now showing off a range of prototype robots it’s developing to automate home chores and other tasks. The company said it is hiring 250 robotics engineers with expertise in computer vision, machine learning, sensors, and mechatronics, and expects to hire another 700 robotics over the next five years. The plan is to start bringing robots into homes by 2030.

At the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Philadelphia on Wednesday, Dyson announced its plans to develop home robotics. The company, which moved its headquarters from the UK to Singapore in 2019, released a video to give us a glimpse into its work.

The more than three-minute video shows Jake Dyson, the company’s chief engineer and son of its founder James Dyson, detailing plans to build the robots.

“There is a big future in robotics, saving people’s time doing housework and improving people’s daily lives,” he says.

The video features a robotic arm capable of mapping a chair in 3D as well as a robot that interprets the environment using sensors, cameras and thermal imaging.

Dyson aims to employ 700 people in robotics over the next five years to advance its plans to develop home robotics. Over the past six months, the company said it has “secretly renovated” one of the major hangars at Hullavington Airfield to make it available to 250 robotic engineers. It has also committed to investing 2.75 billion pounds (about 26,700 crore) to expand its work on robotics and build new technologies, products and facilities. Of the total planned investment, 600 million pounds (about 5,800 crore) is expected to be spent this same year.

The chief engineer said the robotics research and development will take place in a dedicated laboratory in London as well as at the company’s headquarters in Singapore.

Dyson as a company has expressed interest in developing new technologies including robotics for some time. In fact, the company introduced its first robotic floor vacuum cleaner in 2014. However, this is the first time Dyson has shown a clear interest in building robots — on household appliances including vacuum cleaners and air purifiers.

Although Dyson has managed to gain attention for its uniquely designed products, the company has faced difficulties in the recent past.

In 2020, Dyson laid off 900 people, including 600 in the UK alone, due to the impact of the coronavirus. That same year, the company also scrapped plans to build an electric vehicle that was in development at its design center where it is now refurbishing the hangar for robotic men.

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