Dyson unveils secret prototype robots to do manual chores around the house

A robotic arm picking up dishes
The robot can pick up plates from a drying rack as well as vacuum the furniture. Photo credit: Supplied / Dyson

Dyson has unveiled secret prototypes that it hopes will lead to robots doing manual chores around the home by the end of the decade.

The company, best known for its vacuum cleaners, is already recruiting 250 robotics engineers across disciplines including computer vision, machine learning, sensors and mechatronics, with 700 more robotic workers expected to be hired in the next five years, it said.

Robotics is the centre of Dyson's five-year NZ$5.3 billion investment plan into new technologies and facilities, including the UK's largest robotics centre at Hullavington Airfield.

The company made the announcement at the four-day 2022 International Conference on Robotics and Automation, which is currently being held in Philadelphia, US.

"Dyson employed its first roboticist 20 years ago and this year alone we are seeking 250 more experts for our team," said Jake Dyson, the company's chief engineer.

"This is a 'big bet' on future robotic technology that will drive research across the whole of Dyson, in areas including mechanical engineering, vision systems, machine learning and energy storage.

"We need the very best people in the world to come and join us now."

The robotic arm vacuuming furniture
Photo credit: Supplied / Dyson

At the conference, Dyson shared its ambitions in advanced robotics and signalled it is accelerating development of the autonomous device, capable of household chores and other tasks.

A film, released at the same time, showed Dyson-designed robotic hands grasping objects, indicating that the tech company is moving beyond its robotic floor-based vacuums. 

It showed robots picking up glasses and drink bottles, as well as vacuuming an armchair, lifting plates out of a drying rack and picking up a cuddly toy.

The robot arm picking up a child's toy
Photo credit: Supplied / Dyson

Hullavington Airfield is near Dyson's existing design centre in Wiltshire, and the company has been refitting one of the main aircraft hangars for six months in anticipation of the 250 roboticists moving into their new home.

The site was previously going to be used for the company's electric car, which was cancelled in 2019.

Recruits will also be based at a new London laboratory close to the Dyson Robotics Lab at Imperial College and at Dyson's global headquarters in Singapore, the company said.

Over 2000 people have joined the tech company this year, it said, of which half are engineers, scientists and coders.