Bagless vacuum cleaner inventor James Dyson has invested £5 million in a household robotics project from Imperial College London.
The Dyson Robotics Lab at Imperial will be led by Andrew Davison, Professor of Robot Vision at Imperial’s Department of Computing.
According to Davison, the lab will explore “practical” robot tech in the home and beyond in close collaboration with Dyson’s Wiltshire-based R&D labs.
The investment will fund the project over five years, boosted by an extra £3 million in match-funding from other investors, according to the BBC. The funding will pay for 15 scientists, including some from Dyson’s own labs.
It isn’t clear when the first robots will emerge for the consumer market.
“My generation believed the world would be overrun by robots by the year 2014,” said Dyson, according to the BBC. “We now have the mechanical and electronic capabilities, but robots still lack understanding – seeing and thinking in the way we do.”
“Mastering this will make our lives easier and lead to previously unthinkable technologies.”
The news comes after Google continued its own push into robotics, snapping up British AI company DeepMind for a rumoured $400 million last month. It recently bought smart home startup Nest for $2.3 billion and robotics firm Boston Dynamics.
Both Davies and Dyson have suggested robotics firms should stay independent.
“It seems a pity to me to sell out, as I don’t quite understand the urge to give up,” he told the Guardian. “Long-term thinking is essential to new technology. We should be encouraging UK companies to invest in R&D and take on armies of engineers so that they can grow and become UK world-beaters.”
Davison commented on Google’s acquisitions in a January Google+ post, saying that there was still “plenty of talent” in robotics outside the search firm.