Dyson has shown off a series of prototype robots it’s developing, and announced plans to hire hundreds of engineers over the next five years in order to build robots capable of household chores. The images are designed to show off the fine motor skills of the machines, with arms capable of lifting plates out of a drying rack, vacuuming a sofa, or lifting up a children’s toy.
The company, best known for its range of vacuum cleaners, says that it aims to develop “an autonomous device capable of household chores and other tasks,” with The Guardian noting that such a device could be released by 2030. It comes over half a decade after the company released its first robotic device, the Dyson 360 Eye robot vacuum cleaner, in 2014. Dyson has long emphasized its interest in AI and robotics to underpin its future products.
The announcement was made to coincide with the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Philadelphia, and serve as a recruitment tool with a prominent “Start your Dyson career” link placed near the top of Dyson’s press release. The company says it’s in the midst of the “largest engineering recruitment drive in its history.” It’s currently recruiting 250 robotics engineers with expertise in “computer vision, machine learning, sensors and mechatronics,” and hopes to hire 700 more over the next five years. Dyson says it’s already added 2,000 new employees to its workforce this year.
As well as making hires, the company is also building out what it hopes will be the UK’s largest robotics research center, The Guardian reports. The center will be based at Hullavington Airfield near the company’s existing design center in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, where it’s refitting an aircraft hanger where 250 roboticists will work. The site had previously been earmarked for development of Dyson’s electric car, before the project was canceled in 2019. Research will also take place in a lab in London, as well as at the company’s global headquarters in Singapore.
“This is a ‘big bet’ on future robotic technology that will drive research across the whole of Dyson, in areas including mechanical engineering, vision systems, machine learning and energy storage,” said Jake Dyson, the company’s chief engineer and son of company founder James Dyson. In 2020, Dyson announced plans to invest £2.75 billion (around $3.45 billion) in areas including robotics, new motor tech, and machine learning software by 2025. It plans to spend £600 million (around $750 million) of that investment this year.