VACUUM CLEANER MAGNATE Sir James Dyson has put £5m funding into a robotics laboratory, following in the footsteps of Google which recently acquired Boston Dynamics.
The inventor, who already funds budding engineers through the Sir James Dyson Foundation that awards £30,000 grants for problem solving ideas, will once again be working with Imperial College, London, with which he has been collaborating since 2005.
The new research will be working towards the next generation of vacuum cleaning robots, but also wider robotics applications including domestic robots with artificial intelligence.
Dyson told the BBC, "My generation believed the world would be overrun by robots by the year 2014. 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 focus of the research will be on developing robots' vision and adaptability to their environments. The five year investment will be matched with £3m, which will pay for 15 scientists, including some seconded from Dyson.
This is Dyson's second major investment in recent weeks following a £250m investment for his firm's existing research centre, which will see it double in size and hire up to 3,000 more engineers.
Dyson's commitment to research has led to several products that are now part of everyday life, including the bagless pivoting vacuum cleaner, bladeless fan, airblade hand dryer and ball wheelbarrow.
This recent splurge amounts to relatively small change for Dyson, who is said to have amassed a personal fortune of £3 billion. µ