London The British company Dyson, so far known mainly for its vacuum cleaners, wants to expand its business to robots for the household. The machines should be able to do household chores and other tasks autonomously – and Dyson is also working on robotic hands that can reach for objects.
The aim is to bring the technology into private households by the end of the decade. The company is looking for robotics specialists for this purpose: out of the 250 now hired, another 700 are to follow in the next five years, as Dyson announced on Wednesday.
Dyson converted a hangar for the robotics center on the British airfield Hullavington, purchased by the company. It’s not the first time Dyson has sought to expand its business with big investments in vacuum cleaners, air filters and hairdryers. A few years ago, the company invested billions in the development of an electric car – but pulled the plug on the project before the vehicle was launched on the market.
Competitors such as the robot vacuum cleaner specialist iRobot are also preparing for a future with mechanical household helpers who have hands. “We’re at a point where we’re starting to understand the environment in which we operate to the point where we can do something like this,” iRobot chief executive Colin Angle said last year. Even in industry, however, people are still puzzling over what the task of the first household robot with arms will be, Angle limited at the time.