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Dyson wants to build domestic robots that 'see and think' like we do

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The British company invested £5 million in a robotic vision lab in London

sir james dyson
sir james dyson

Is Dyson readying its own take on the autonomous Roomba vacuum cleaner? The British appliance company has invested £5 million pounds (about $8.2 million dollars) in a new robotic vision laboratory at Imperial College in London. Imperial College's Professor Andrew Davison, who is considered one of the foremost experts on vision mapping using a single camera, will lead work on the new robotic vision systems.

"Mastering this will make our lives easier and lead to previously unthinkable technologies."

The lab will focus on developing "vision systems that can help robots understand and adapt to the world around them," Dyson says. "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." The research will fund the work of 15 scientists on "domestic robots" as well as robotic vacuum cleaners, the BBC reports. Dyson in fact already came close to launching the an automated vacuuming robot in 2001, but pulled the plug because it was too heavy and expensive.

"Mastering this will make our lives easier and lead to previously unthinkable technologies," Dyson told the BBC. The company's new investment follows the its recent announcement that it will invest £250 million in doubling the size of its research center in Wiltshire, England, and hire 3,000 additional engineers — its biggest expansion to date. Dyson has always bet big on technology, but this time, it's betting even bigger.