Is Dyson Finally Ready to Release a Robot Vacuum?

We think so!

2 min read

Evan Ackerman is IEEE Spectrum’s robotics editor.

Is Dyson Finally Ready to Release a Robot Vacuum?
Image: Dyson

Remember a couple weeks ago when we were complaining about how we were in desperate need of some juicy new robot rumors? Dyson (which obviously takes most of its cues from IEEE Spectrum) has come through with a tantalizingly confusing video hyping some...thing...that will be unveiled this Thursday, 4 September. We'll take the video completely to pieces and see what we can see.

First, here's the Dyson video:

And some background on Dyson's robots here, and here.

Now, let's see what we can make of the thing Dyson is working on based on screen captures from the vid:

Looks like Dyson was trying to decide how to power their mystery device. It's a bit hard to read (anyone have a 4K display they can take advantage of?), but looks like under "Pros" for Rotors they've got "partial palindrome" (always a plus), whereas "Cons" include "Risk of Decapitation" and "Atmosphere Dependent." Hmm. Vacuum of space, possibly? On the Thruster side, they seem to be looking at rockets, which I'm personally in favor of to power anything, anywhere, anytime, even if there is a risk of weaponization.

Is that some sort of hovercraft with two big fans at the back? If so, what the heck is on the front?

OMG IT'S MOVING WHAT IS IT. And more importantly, why is there someone with a big metal dome on their head?

To me, this looks a lot like a simulation of a round robot traversing a room in a pattern that implies solid localization (unlike a Roomba).

I have no idea what that is. But it scares me.

Tank treads? Sure, why not!

But let's get serious. I think that most of this video was a prank, with the possible exception of the simulation, which I believe may be real. It shows a robot with a round form factor traversing a room in a back and forth pattern. What else do we know? This picture was posted to Dyson's Facebook page:

That appears to be a panoramic camera. More importantly, there's a distinctive design of the plastic pieces that seems to match a recent Dyson patent image, posted to the Dyson Facebook page by a user:

I can't find the Dyson patent that this exact image comes from, but there are two very similar patents here and here. Another pic, showing the front of what looks to be a slightly different (earlier?) version:

What's missing from this is any information about sensors or software, although Dyson also has patents for docks

This is completely, entirely, 100 percent speculation except for the bits that come from Dyson itself. To see if we're in the ballpark, or in a different ballpark on Mars or something, we'll have to wait for the official release on Thursday.

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