Great engineers are obsessive problem solvers. When they leave the workshop, the engineering thinking comes with them. And at Dyson, our in-house design challenges ensure that the brilliant minds working in our RDD labs get to indulge this passion, regularly.
"After taking part in Challenge Dyson 2013, myself and Phil Reilly, another design engineer, were inspired to create a flying robot at home," explains Darren Lewis, mechatronics design engineer.
But like all aspects of engineering, the task came with strict constraints – including a meagre £20 budget.
In true Dyson spirit, Darren had something unexpected to hand that he was sure could form a low-cost vehicle chassis – an empty pizza box. "The difficulty, however, was to make the design as aerodynamic as possible without losing the sturdiness of the original shape."
Next, Darren and Phil added batteries for power, a brushless motor to drive the propeller, and a receiver for remote control. In just an evening, they'd managed to build a vehicle from nothing but rubbish and basic parts. But one last question remained: could it fly?
"Yes. Pretty well actually!"
In the time since, Darren's robotics engineering has become an even bigger part of life than just his work at Dyson. And flights now extend well beyond his kitchen, too...
"Following Challenge Dyson, I've taken part in multiple European and global robotics competitions – winning first place in the Eurobot UK finals, and gaining a top 25 placing in the world event. Not too bad for a hobby."