British hoover tycoon Sir James Dyson is taking on Google in the race to build the world’s first household robot, following a £5m investment in a British university.
His company, known for manufacturing bagless vacuum cleaners, has given the money to Imperial College London to fund 15 scientists on the development of robot vision systems that could be used in devices such as robot-controlled vacuums.
The five-year investment, which will see an additional £3m in match funding from other sources, will also draw on Dyson’s own engineers to aid the project.
The move puts the British company into direct competition with US tech giant Google, which has recently acquired eight robotics companies, including US military contractor Boston Dynamics.
Dyson, who has a long held ambition for the project, said: “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.
“Mastering this will make our lives easier and lead to previously unthinkable technologies.”
Project leader Professor Andrew Davison, who is head of robot vision at the university, added: “A truly intelligent domestic robot needs to complete complex everyday tasks while adapting to a constantly changing environment.
“We will research and develop systems that allow machines to both understand and perceive their surroundings – using vision to achieve it.”
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