Dyson’s New $8 Million Robotic Cleaning LaboratoryBy: Courtney Wills - February 15, 2014
Dyson has long-been an innovator when it comes to household cleaning, namely, through their various vacuum cleaners. The company spent fifteen years and reworked over 5,000 prototypes of a bagless vacuum before James Dyson created the first one to hit the market in 1993 in the U.K. Since then, Dyson has become the expert and leader in the vacuum business despite their hefty price tags.
Now, Dyson is shelling out a sizable chunk of their own money to create a research laboratory in an effort to redesign the vacuum of the 21st century. The company announced via a weekend press release that they had just signed off on a new deal with London’s Imperial College to establish a research facility to create one-of-a-kind domestic robotic cleaners. Company officials chose not to name what other cleaners that might entail, but the media definitely did not miss the plural form of ‘cleaner’ at the announcement. Obviously, the broad choice of words in the release has many speculating what the company will be creating; a new robotic vacuum, mop, or a machine that does both jobs simultaneously with the push of a button?
In order to create such a product, Dyson’s pricey deal includes a new research facility at the college, deemed “The Dyson Robotics Laboratory at Imperial College,” which will include several of the world’s top innovators and scientists.
The soon-to-be Director of the new facility, Professor Andrew Davison, may be the biggest hint yet at what Dyson is planning; Davison is currently the Professor of Robot Vision at Imperial’s Department of Computing, and an expert in the field of Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) Systems. Seeing as the new facility director is one of the top researchers in the area of SLAM Systems, it is easy to see why speculation is already swirling that Dyson is possibly planning to create the first “perfect” navigation system for a cleaner (or cleaners) that will allow for the bulk of household cleaning to be done without the owner having to lift a finger.
Amid the hype of robotic cleaners in the last few years, Dyson didn’t have much to offer consumers. The company attempted to create a domestic robotic cleaner in 2001, but ditched the project just before production saying that their design was “too bulky and expensive,” according to Digital Trends.
Many consumers today are busy. Busy. So a device that will vacuum, sweep, and mop without missing a single square inch or leaving a speck of residue behind is something that many of us are desperate to find.
However, the company’s latest innovation, the Dyson Hard, is a cleaner comparable to a Swiffer wet/dry mop, but with one very large difference; whereas a Swiffer sweeper will cost a buyer about $40, the Dyson Hard runs eight times that, with a $330 price tag. Which leaves many of us wondering, how much will something like a robotic all-in-one cleaner with a near-perfect navigational system cost? The answer? Probably more than most consumers can afford, which then begs one of the most important questions of all: Should Dyson’s laboratory be able to create this “dream cleaner,” will I even be able to afford it? Unfortunately, the answer is nowhere near being in sight, but it’s not hard to imagine busy moms everywhere rushing out to trade their luxury cars for the latest Dyson…I know I will be.
Image via Dyson, Dyson.com.