Giving a machine the ability to see and think like a human is one of the biggest challenges we've faced yet. In fact, developing the visual interpretation system of our robot vacuum required unprecedented levels of Dyson perseverance – sixteen years of it.
"It's safe to say I may have been guilty of underestimating the scale of the task when I started," reveals Mike Aldred, electronics category lead for robotics. "The human eye alone consists of over two million distinct parts. And that's only enough to make it the second-most complex organ in the body, after the brain.
"As robotics engineers, we have to master both."
In 1998, Mike was finishing university when his supervisor asked if he would like to join a new team at Dyson. The task was seemingly simple – create a robotic vacuum cleaner that actually worked.
Just like Mike, many of the team have been at Dyson since DC06 – our very first robot prototype. In the time since, they've all helped to create many more. And experienced their fair share of challenges along the way. But today, their work is finally in people's homes – as the world's most powerful robot vacuum cleaner.
But the Dyson 360 Eye™ robot was just the start. Developing robot intelligence that can understand its surroundings, and react to changing conditions, has immense potential to improve our lives. Not just revolutionising tasks such as cleaning your home, but more besides.
Alongside Mike and our specialist in-house robotics team, the £5 million Dyson Robotics Laboratory – in collaboration with Imperial College London – will drive forward research and development on robotic vision and interpretation systems, pushing us closer to this revolution.
But we need still more robotics expertise to help us get there. And that's where you come in.