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Dyson Invests £5 Million To Create 'Intelligent Domestic Robots'

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the all-the-better-to-clean-you-with dept.

Robotics 125

DavidGilbert99 writes "James Dyson only releases products he is 100% happy with, which is why, despite nearly a decade of research in the area, his company has yet to release a robotic vacuum cleaner. To help drive research forward, he will invest £5 million in a joint research lab at Imperial College London which will focus on 'vision systems,' which Dyson hopes will help create the next generation of 'intelligent domestic robots.'" Last week Dyson proposed that the UK government offer monetary incentives to students with an interest and aptitude in science.

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Do not want. (1, Offtopic)

Shinu (1196897) | about 8 months ago | (#46209889)

User here on both desktop and Android tablet. Will write about the tablet experience, as that is the medium through which I browse Slashdot more often lately.

My stock 1st gen JB Nexus 7 and CM11 HTC Sensation choke when browsing the beta. I'm absolutely baffled by reports that the beta (and the current modern, non-classic site) run smoothly on moderately aged hardware. The experience is in no way seamless; it is utterly painful.

First, there is a delay between my trying to scroll down/up and the scroll actually occurring (said delay is completely nonexistent on the classic site on both devices).

Second, with the dynamic photo loading (why the hell are there photos now?) I hate having my webpage constantly bouncing around up and down when I'm trying to navigate (especially painful when I'm trying to click a link, only for the device to "catch up" and finish fully rendering the page after I have already made the move for my finger to click on the link but before the finger actually touches the screen, causing me to click a different link than intended). This, compounded with the first issue above, take Slashdot well outside the realm of usability. I don't know for sure, but from reading around, this second issue seems to be due to the Javascript, which seemingly almost as many users complaining about are claiming is NOT a problem. What???

My beta experience is characterized by my having to wait an entire 3 seconds (sometimes 4) inbetween EVERY INDIVIDUAL SWIPE to navigate (okay, I don't have to wait quite that long on my N7). Before, I could swipe as fast as my ninja fingers pleased; now, the site REGISTERS MY SWIPES AS CLICKS if I don't wait out the dynamic loading. Sure, the incremental render finishes a lot sooner than that, but then I'm just gambling on whether or not I'm going to run into the usability issues I've just mentioned above if I don't wait out those 3 seconds.

Lastly,

This is a goddamn beaut.
http://imgur.com/HF7H42v [imgur.com]

I however understand that maybe in somebody's bizarro world, this would be acceptable (although that person would be absolutely nuts), but how the fuck does a development TEAM allow this to happen?
http://imgur.com/cXt2BQr [imgur.com]

I was at an absolute loss for words thinking about this for a few minutes, until what many people here have been droning on about and parroting had finally clicked for me after having to sit through people bitching about the same thing for months. All this time I thought people had been beating a dead horse over a relatively insignificant complaint compared to everything else that was wrong.

It is NOT that they (devs & suits) think the comment system is a less-important, lower-priority aspect of Slashdot; it is that they are UTTERLY IGNORING it. A perception of its inconsequence by the developers sounds plausible, but it looks glaringly more likely that the comment system probably isn't even crossing their minds in the first place. Thus, they are hopelessly blind to the essence of Slashdot. I never realized this, because I couldn't even make it past tolerating the site navigation issues outlined in the first half of my post on my many attempts to test drive the beta until I decided now to actually try to force myself to use it amidst all this "overblown" Slashcott fuss. Maybe my experiences had something to do with this? But then again, people HAVE been bitching about the comments since day one. Skeptically and with a genuine dose of doubt, I had asked myself "it couldn't be THAT bad, much less UNUSABLE, could it?"

bUCKfETA.

Re:Do not want. (0, Offtopic)

jones_supa (887896) | about 8 months ago | (#46210067)

As much as I'd like to leave the programmers alone for a while now, I have to say that the second screenshot you posted is hilarious. The beta layout works with a page width of 1920 pixels, but anything lower than that, the comment section becomes a thin strip.

Re:Do not want. (0, Offtopic)

leptons (891340) | about 8 months ago | (#46210577)

> Second, with the dynamic photo loading (why the hell are there photos now?) I hate having my webpage constantly bouncing around up and down when I'm trying to navigate (especially painful when I'm trying to click a link, only for the device to "catch up" and finish fully rendering the page after I have already made the move for my finger to click on the link but before the finger actually touches the screen, causing me to click a different link than intended). This, compounded with the first issue above, take Slashdot well outside the realm of usability. I don't know for sure, but from reading around, this second issue seems to be due to the Javascript, which seemingly almost as many users complaining about are claiming is NOT a problem. What???

Javascript is NOT the problem on this one, inexperienced developers and shoddy implementation is. What is happening here is there is an unloaded image in the layout and when the image loads, suddenly it takes up some space on the page and causes a reflow of the text and this makes the page appear to bounce around.

What should be implemented to fix this is, any place there is an image, the image should be inside a div, and the div width and height should be the exact size of the image being loaded so that the div takes up the space and when the image loads inside the div, it doesn't cause a reflow of the layout.

It is a very simple thing to do, but many developers don't do this because they are either too new at doing this type of work, or they aren't that good at it to begin with. It kills usability on many websites, not just slashdot.

Re:Do not want. (3, Informative)

Soulskill (1459) | about 8 months ago | (#46211049)

We're aware of how poorly nested comments render on small screen widths. It's one of the things we have to fix.

FWIW, we do have a dedicated mobile version, and cases like this are one of the reasons the classic site is still around, and will be around for a long time yet.

I'm sorry it's not usable on your devices yet, but we're working to finish it, and definitely not ignoring those use-cases.

Re:Do not want. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46211423)

But why would you show this to users if you're aware it doesn't work? The fault is not in our stars, but our selves.

Re:Do not want. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46212963)

This seems like a lot of time an energy being spent just to recreate the features of a successful already-existing website. There are a hundred things to lose on the switch, but what is there for us gain? That hasn't been explained. What user feedback had prompted the decision to create the beta in the first place? I imagine it was no small undertaking, but it seemed to have come out of nowhere, at least not in the community.

Re:Do not want. (1)

CnlPepper (140772) | about 8 months ago | (#46211275)

Was it really worth breaking your screen over though? :)

Re:Do not want. (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 8 months ago | (#46211783)

My first thought was that he was blaming beta for breaking his screen. Kinda like the earlier story about Dell insisting that VLC broke the speakers.

And (-1, Offtopic)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about 8 months ago | (#46209891)

the slashdot boycott begins. See you on the 17th.

Re:And (-1, Offtopic)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about 8 months ago | (#46210011)

Ok, I'm in for the Slashcott

Re:And (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46210031)

the slashdot boycott begins. See you on the 17th.

You guys keep saying that, and yet, here you are. You're not very good at this boycott thing, are you?

Re: And (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46210085)

More people keep joining the boycott, duh. Soon there will be no one left.

You lose Dice. Get your resumes together, although killing Slashdot won't help you get a new job.

Re:And (2)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 8 months ago | (#46211799)

Maybe once the boycotters leave we can read /. in peace again.

Re:And (1)

sudden.zero (981475) | about 8 months ago | (#46213371)

If anyone is in for a slashcott I propose that we create our own site using the open source slash code, and make it just like the classic slashdot look. I already purchased the domain name slashdice.com kind of fitting I think. Then once dice tanks slashdot by forcing the beta on us we will have somewhere to go.

What do you guys think, anyone with me?

$8,500,000 ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46209897)

That doesn't seem like enough to develop intelligent domestic robots, but it's more than enough to hire an army of Mexicans to do your housework...

Re:$8,500,000 ? (2)

davester666 (731373) | about 8 months ago | (#46211203)

Why the hell isn't he working on the Dyson Sphere yet?

Re:$8,500,000 ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46211513)

Because he already finished them. [dyson.com]

dyson (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46209899)

Make sure the "domestic" robots wear nice fembot maid gear and have "plenty of suction".

They'll go over big in Japan.

Re:dyson (1)

outlander (140799) | about 8 months ago | (#46211045)

They have to have better aesthetic values than Rosie on the Jetsons.....

Beta (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46209905)

I would love to test their beta

"offer monetary incentives to students" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46209925)

can't do that.

Any monetary incentives has to assure that some asshole in a suit can buy another yacht next quarter. Pure scientific research is right out.

Re:"offer monetary incentives to students" (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 8 months ago | (#46209939)

can't do that we want them to be locked down by loans

Re:"offer monetary incentives to students" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46210737)

Monetary incentive wont work of course, because all students are intelligent beings who question everything and so they know that profit is evil and they should work for free which is the only ethically and morally right thing to do,

This is the problem with engineering these days (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46209975)

Working hard to solve non-existent problems that any reasonable human being doesn't give two craps about. Unless you live in a 60,000 sq. ft. mansion, in which case you already have "vision system vacuum cleaners": they're called indentured illegal immigrants.

In the meantime, the rest of use in our 600 sq. ft. urban condos made of ersatz materials can easily vacuum the damn place ourselves in 5 minutes. It's not a big deal, it's not a problem that urgently needs solving.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (2, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | about 8 months ago | (#46210073)

It technology didn't try and solve problems that don't really exist then most of us would be out of a job :o)

Seriously - in a western society where everyone is well fed and healthy and has access to 24/7 entertainment there is nothing vital that (non health related) technology or science can add to our existence - its all toys, gadgets and gizmos that are a brief amusement until they get tossed in landfill and then we all go out and buy the next piece of crap.

Welcome to the consumerism - the 21st century solution to the phony requirement of constant economic "growth".

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (3, Interesting)

rmstar (114746) | about 8 months ago | (#46210185)

Seriously - in a western society where everyone is well fed and healthy and has access to 24/7 entertainment there is nothing vital that (non health related) technology or science can add to our existence - its all toys, gadgets and gizmos that are a brief amusement until they get tossed in landfill and then we all go out and buy the next piece of crap.

That's not entirely true. There is a lot of cancer to be cured, and cured painlessly. Having a longer period of livable life would be very desirable, which includes delaying decrepitude as well as making old age more livable. There is a lot of sientific advance possible and desirable in those areas.

A piece of robot kit able to navigate a typical human dwelling would be a fantastic achievement upon which a lot could be built, not just vacuum cleaners. That said, I don't believe that you can make breakthroughs happen just by sprinkling money on scientists, especially a lump sum like this 5 million pounds.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 8 months ago | (#46210419)

"There is a lot of cancer to be cured, and cured painlessly"

Which part of "non health related" didn't you understand?

"A piece of robot kit able to navigate a typical human dwelling would be a fantastic achievement upon which a lot could be built, not just vacuum cleaners"

Like what? Something to care for the elderly? Newflash - we already have them - they're called nurses.

The point of machines is to do things we *can't* do , such as run at 70 mph or fly at 30K feet or add up a million numbers in a nanosecond. But what is the point in a machine that simply replaces something a humans already do almost perfectly?

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (4, Insightful)

Alioth (221270) | about 8 months ago | (#46210773)

Humans wash dishes pretty damned well, but dishwashers are pretty popular despite this. Labour saving devices and appliances to do things we can do, but find boring, are pretty popular things.

And yes - something to help care for the elderly. We have nurses but they are so expensive that only the rich can afford to have them to care for them in their own home. A robot that can help out with various tasks can mean an elderly person of normal means can retain their independence for a bit longer at their own home, instead of being sent to an expensive nursing home where in many cases they get treated like dirt.

The point of machines is not just to do things we can't do, but to do things we don't like doing, or is expensive for a human to do.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (2)

cellocgw (617879) | about 8 months ago | (#46210871)

But what is the point in a machine that simply replaces something a humans already do almost perfectly

You ever hear of a thing called an "assembly line" ? Rather a lot of people are in fact *happy* to retrain for a job which does NOT entail repeating a boring action 500 times a day, week upon week, year after year.

Or at the other extreme: people can fly a plane almost perfectly. Now explain why there shouldn't be autopilots.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46211197)

But what is the point in a machine that simply replaces something a humans already do almost perfectly?

Because most humans don't *want* to do it perfectly? I could gather wood for a fire to cook my turkey for dinner, but whythefuck would I do that, when I can flick on the stove and have it do the work for me? You just hand-waved about 90% of the western world. How about one simple example: What is the point in a machine that simply replaces floor traders that can buy and sell on the exchange almost perfectly?

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 8 months ago | (#46210341)

Seriously?

I mean I'm sure I'll hate beta as much as the next old git (I've not tried it), but this it taking ludditism to a whole new level on a tech site. Seriously they're building robots. ROBOTS.

With AI. Real AI that solves a REALLY FUCKING HARD problem.

And you're all dismissing it as consumerist crap.

Please return your nerd card. It has been revoked.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46210397)

Oh my god. Robots. They're building robots. Woopeee. You mean a cart with a vacuum cleaner and some RC toy grade wheels and motors? Yes, they're solving a REALLY HARD problem. But for what purpose?

And who cares? My brain and eyes and arms ALREADY solve this REALLY HARD problem, shouldn't engineering focus on actual problems?

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46211561)

Yes, engineering should focus on actual problems.

Now, please, define "actual problem".

For this Dyson guy thinks he has an actual problem: making himself richer. And he thinks investing 5 million pounds on a sellable robotic vacuum cleaner is a worthy try at his problem.

Now, what's your authority, moral or otherwise, to say which actual problems he should invest HIS money in?

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (1)

locopuyo (1433631) | about 8 months ago | (#46211449)

There are places where the quality of life doesn't involve Itty-bitty living space.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46210149)

Yes, because between some humongous mansion and your shitty condo, there's nothing in between.
No houses between 1500 and 3000 sq ft, that form probably the majority of housing in North America.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (1)

master_kaos (1027308) | about 8 months ago | (#46211585)

I live in a 1500 sqft home and vacuuming takes 10 minutes (note this is upstairs AND downstairs). Upstairs I only need to vacuum approx every 3weeks . Downstairs gets vacuumed twice a week that takes about 4 minutes each time.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46212379)

I call BS. That's 2.5 sq ft per second, not counting plugging in the vacuum and moving furniture. You either take a lot more time, or you're just not very clean to begin with.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (3, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 8 months ago | (#46210151)

I can vacuum myself but I'd prefer a robot if it did a good job. In my old apartment, a Roomba did a decent job of keeping the place free of cat hairs etc; the only problem was that its battery was crap (even the new Roombas still use NiMH batteries). It's nice to come home to a clean house instead of having to vacuum after a day of work.

I wonder what Dyson will come up with this time. He's not that good at inventing new stuff; none of his flagship products (the cyclone vacuum, the Air Blade dryer, the bladeless fan) were invented by him. But he is good at packaging them into usable products of decent quality.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (3, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 8 months ago | (#46210433)

He's not that good at inventing new stuff; none of his flagship products (the cyclone vacuum, the Air Blade dryer, the bladeless fan) were invented by him.

Oh FFS, why are slashdotters so deluded about what inventions are and what inventors do. No product inventor creates something from first principles. They all use existing technology. It's how that technology is applied to something new that makes an invention.

Dyson made the first bagless cyclone vac. If you think that's not true, you have to explain why the other vac companies had to wait for the expiration of Dyson't patents before they could make their competitor bagless cyclone vacs.

Making the first bagless cyclone vac is invention. Regardless of the fact that elements of it existed in other devices before.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (2)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 8 months ago | (#46211845)

He's the Steve Jobs of the vacuum world. He takes what other people have done and packages them up nicely enough for an insanely popular consumer product. Sure, it's not the ugly guy in his garage kind of innovation that a lot of people around here would like to imitate, but it's the kind of innovation that pushes the world forward.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (2)

Agent0013 (828350) | about 8 months ago | (#46211975)

I don't know about him being the Steve Jobs of vacuums. Maybe he took some principles that were in use previously, but he did have to refine them quite a bit to get them to work in the vacuum. The original cyclone filter was used to remove sawdust from the air in lumber mills. He had to make thousands of versions over several decades before he got a vacuum that worked. That sounds a little more involved that simply taking something that's already been done and put it into a vacuum.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (2)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 8 months ago | (#46211857)

Dyson made the first bagless cyclone vac.

No he didn't. Cyclonic separators are nearly 100 years old. They have been commonly used for industrial vacuums and central vacs before Dyson came around. He may have some patents on implementation variations but the real reason why the competition waited is because the home appliance industry is slow to adapt to "new" technologies if they can continue to sell old products for a profit. They aren't accustomed to 6-month product cycles. Witness how long it took for electronic controls to replace mechanical timers on consumer washers and dryers.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 8 months ago | (#46211951)

They have been commonly used for industrial vacuums and central vacs before Dyson came around.

I'm aware of those and neither is what we're talking about here.

He may have some patents on implementation variations but the real reason why the competition waited is because the home appliance industry is slow to adapt to "new" technologies if they can continue to sell old products for a profit.

Completely wrong. Companies like Hoover and Electrolux were losing massive market share to Dyson, and as soon as Dyson's patents expired, they released their own competitors.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46212491)

Dyson made the first bagless cyclone vac.

No he didn't. [wikipedia.org]

Cleveland's P.A. Geier Company had obtained a patent on a cyclonic vacuum cleaner as early as 1928, which was later sold to Health-Mor in 1939, introducing the Filter Queen cyclonic canister vacuum cleaner.[21]

In 1979, James Dyson introduced a portable unit with cyclonic separation, adapting this design from industrial saw mills.[22] He launched his cyclone cleaner first in Japan in the 1980s at a cost of about US$1800 and in 1993 released the Dyson DC01 upright in the UK for £200. Critics expected that people would not buy a vacuum cleaner at twice the price of a conventional unit, but the Dyson design later became the most popular cleaner in the UK.[23][24]

Cyclonic cleaners do not use filtration bags. Instead, the dust is separated in a detachable cylindrical collection vessel or bin. Air and dust are sucked at high speed into the collection vessel at a direction tangential to the vessel wall, creating a fast-spinning vortex. The dust particles and other debris move to the outside of the vessel by centrifugal force, where they fall due to gravity.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 8 months ago | (#46214157)

Actually Dyson simple scaled down the bagless cyclonic vacuum which was sitting in his own workshop and put it in wheels. Invention is a word applied only due to the technicality that his existing system wasn't mobile, that he received a patent for it however is ludicrous. Same with his attempts to patent the bladeless fan, you know the one invented by Toshiba in the 80s. He submitted the application several times before getting a parent awarded based on a slight change in outlet diameter. This man is NOT an inventor.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 8 months ago | (#46211505)

As somebody with Kids, I can tell you why this doesn't work. Because half the trouble with vacuuming is cleaning up all the stuff that you don't want vacuumed up in the first place. Sure you could just suck up all the Lego bricks in the vacuum, but something going to clog it, and then it won't be picking up anything. That, and the kids will start crying. This is the same problem that I have with dishwashers. By the time you sufficiently rinsed the dishes that you're assured that the dishwasher won't leave any food on the dish which will be there forever after it's baked on by the dry cycle, you might as well have washed the dishes by hand.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 8 months ago | (#46212005)

Because half the trouble with vacuuming is cleaning up all the stuff that you don't want vacuumed up in the first place.

You have to do that either way. But you might find the kids are keener to tidy up for the robot than for you.

Sure you could just suck up all the Lego bricks in the vacuum, but something going to clog it, and then it won't be picking up anything.

With the Roomba, that does happen. And the brick either doesn't get swept up, gets into the hopper, or jams the brush, and so stops the Roomba, awaiting your attention. At worst the vaccing won't be completed that day, and will get done tomorrow instead.

Either way, no big deal.

This is the same problem that I have with dishwashers. By the time you sufficiently rinsed the dishes that you're assured that the dishwasher won't leave any food on the dish which will be there forever after it's baked on by the dry cycle, you might as well have washed the dishes by hand.

Either you have OCD, or a bad dishwasher.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 8 months ago | (#46210203)

Ah, one of those "faster horse" types, I see...

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 8 months ago | (#46210293)

So there's only two types of home? 60,000 sq. ft. mansion, and 600 sq. ft. urban condos.

600 sq. ft. urban condos made of ersatz materials can easily vacuum the damn place ourselves in 5 minutes

2 sq. foot per second? Including getting around all the furniture? I don't think so. Heck, getting the vac out, uncoiling the wire, moving the wire to various sockets, and then coiling it and putting the vac away is going to take half of your 5 minutes.

Roomba have proved that the day to day vacuuming is more easily, and more thoroughly done by a robot. They are reasonably popular.

(I say more thoroughly done because they go under the sofa and table, which wouldn't get done in a day to day manual vac.)

Dyson's problem is that they must have a cyclone, as that is their thing. And that's too big to go many places the Roomba goes. And it's more expensive. So the only way they are going to be successful is if they make their robotic vac better in other ways. Hence they want one that intelligently plans it's route, rather than wanders aimlessly.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46210505)

How about a robot that intelligently can tell the difference between its and it's? Or how about the Dyson bagless condom?

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46210897)

I would think if it was bagless you wouldn't need a condom.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (1)

codeButcher (223668) | about 8 months ago | (#46211377)

Working hard to solve non-existent problems that any reasonable human being doesn't give two craps about. Unless you live in a 60,000 sq. ft. mansion, in which case you already have "vision system vacuum cleaners": they're called indentured illegal immigrants.

In the meantime, the rest of use in our 600 sq. ft. urban condos made of ersatz materials can easily vacuum the damn place ourselves in 5 minutes. It's not a big deal, it's not a problem that urgently needs solving.

I live in a roughly 1600 sq ft (150 sq m) house. Unfortunately, alone, at this point (I have reasons to stay for the time being). This is not in a North American or European locale, so your mileage may vary.

Cleaning the place is a b***tch and takes most of a weekend. Therefore, I do not do it too regularly, only when the dust is not ignorable any longer :-(.

Hiring the local version of the III has been an option. Then again, in my locale, crime seems to be a slightly greater problem than in the US/EU, and my perception is that an III can in some cases increase this risk - it will be mostly an unknown person being hired, and since I am away during working hours will need full access on his/her own.

On the other hand, having a simple function like having floors swept/vacuumed once or twice a week will greatly diminish the time needed for cleaning - a quick mopping will be quite adequate and could be done some weekday evening.

Due to these considerations I have been keen on cleaning robots since way back. The first model I owned was the Kärcher RC3000 (joint development by Kärcher and Siemens). It was a fairly robust machine with low intelligence (basically random pattern cleaning with obstacle/stair detection). It did the job admirably well. The downside was the steep price of the damn thing, and when something went wrong on the motherboard, I did not have it repaired. A few years back I then got a Samsung model for much cheaper. It was also more sophisticated, with a room mapping (ceiling-pointing) camera and whatnot. Despite more intelligent functions, it didn't clean as well. It was also quite flimsy and didn't outlast the warranty period. I am still looking for a model that will be my third....

I don't care much about all the AI progress. The random pattern-thing works quite well. What manufacturers can however improve on is:

  1. Edge and corner cleaning (walls and around furniture legs)
  2. Lower height to clean under furniture
  3. And if it could clean stairs, that would be great.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (1)

master_kaos (1027308) | about 8 months ago | (#46211655)

I am somewhat similar situation 1500 sqft house that I live on my own. Sure cleaning the entire house takes a good portion of the day (specially when I have a messy pet) but vacuuming 1500 sqft doesn't take much longer than 10 minutes.. I assume that since you are by yourself in a 1500 sqft then like me, you probably don't use a couple of your rooms. (I have 3 empty rooms I do not use), so I only vacuum them once a month maybe even longer since not much dust gets in them. Main floor I vacuum the most at twice a week which takes 3 minutes... honestly takes longer to get the vacuum out and deal with the cord then to actually vacuum the floor.

I would be 100% for a cleaning robot that will clean everything (walls, vacuum, counters, etc, aka a robotic cleaning maid), but just a vacuuming robot? No thanks I can do that myself quickly.

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 8 months ago | (#46211807)

https://xkcd.com/1232/ [xkcd.com]

s/Exploring other planets/building cool stuff/

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46212163)

The above comment is what's wrong with beta -- THAT is the kind of audience Dice wants to foist on us; normals. Dice, WE'RE NERDS! I would have modded that guy down in a heartbeat for being abti-tech. WTF, luddites getting modded up on NEWS FOR NERDS?

Someone could have said the same thing about automobiles a hundred fifty years ago, there was no need. Horses alone could do twenty MPH while an automobile could do no more than five, and noisily at that. They were simply toys for the rich.

They could also have said the same thing about vacuum cleaners when they first came out ("lazy rich bastards can't beat their rugs?"), telephones, electric lighting...

And you guys voted that troll UP? WTF???

The problem is with -perception- of engineering (1)

See Attached (1269764) | about 8 months ago | (#46212629)

There are many things a robot might do for an elderly person - dispense meds, billing records, food prep, Monitoring (is anyone lying on the floor), Music, Blood Glucose tests, Putting on socks, shoes, initialing connections via skype or H.264 to family members, technology assist... where does it stop?

Re:This is the problem with engineering these days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46213209)

Nah, I have a three bedroom flat and I still use a robot vacuum cleaner. The floors would never be clean if it weren't for that thing. That is something I can live without having to worry about.

I'm not covinced by Dyson (3, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | about 8 months ago | (#46210003)

He had one big hit with a bagless vacuum cleaner and he's been dining out on that every since. I'm not convinced he's really the man to usher in the next generation of AI.

Aside from that, from what I've read in interviews he really has next to know knowledge of how normal people think or act since he seems to be of the opinion that everyone will be blissfully happy being put out of work by a robot.

Yes , I know , luddites etc , but you can't always generate new jobs to replace old ones that have succummed to tech - at some point you're going to put a lot of people out of a job and then what?
And don't someone come up with the BS about everyone will sit around in blissful nirvana writing poetry or music or coding or go kayaking all day. It ain't going to happen.

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46210057)

"know knowledge"? That's a lot of knowledge!

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46210125)

He had one big hit with a bagless vacuum cleaner and he's been dining out on that every since. I'm not convinced he's really the man to usher in the next generation of AI.

Hey now, give him time. He'll need a lot more vacuum cleaner money to start dismantling the outer planets to build his sphere.

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (1)

guru42101 (851700) | about 8 months ago | (#46210153)

The fans work surprisingly well. I have one that I use to direct the heat from the fireplace to other parts of the house.

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (4, Interesting)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 8 months ago | (#46210225)

That "big hit" was pretty damned big, and he's had a lot of other cool inventions. They might not be so visible to you if you haven't looked up his product line. Dyson also came up with a better hand-dryer and he's even topped it with one with the hand-dryer AT the faucet. I really like the way the guy thinks. He has the ability to drop all preconceived notions about technology and start from scratch.

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (0)

Viol8 (599362) | about 8 months ago | (#46210367)

" Dyson also came up with a better hand-dryer and he's even topped it with one with the hand-dryer AT the faucet"

Ah , of course! *Obviously* anyone who comes up with a new dryer and connects it to the plumbing is the #1 go-to man to develop bleeding edge AI! Watch out all those teams at MIT and Harvard and elsewhere who've been working on this problem for decades - our Jim will have it sorted as soon as he's come up with his wall mounted potato peeler.

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (3, Interesting)

ranton (36917) | about 8 months ago | (#46210437)

" Dyson also came up with a better hand-dryer and he's even topped it with one with the hand-dryer AT the faucet"

Ah , of course! *Obviously* anyone who comes up with a new dryer and connects it to the plumbing is the #1 go-to man to develop bleeding edge AI! Watch out all those teams at MIT and Harvard and elsewhere who've been working on this problem for decades - our Jim will have it sorted as soon as he's come up with his wall mounted potato peeler.

Are you kidding with this? He isn't using this money to pay himself to solve the problem alone. He is spending it on hiring those software engineers from MIT and Harvard and elsewhere who've been working on this problem for decades.

Anyone willing to spend money to fund this research is a good thing. Any time that money is spent by a company with a good track record of creating innovative products is even better.

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 8 months ago | (#46210469)

Ah , of course! *Obviously* anyone who comes up with a new dryer and connects it to the plumbing is the #1 go-to man to develop bleeding edge AI!

You do realise Dyson doesn't do all the invention personally? That researching in AI involves hiring AI researchers, not working out the AI himself. Hence this news story - investing in a university to have them do some of the required research.

Watch out all those teams at MIT and Harvard

As opposed to the teams at Imperial College London that Dyson is investing in? Hope they read past the first sentence of a summary.

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46211333)

was pretty damned big
I had 3 different vacuums from 3 different companies. I was not very happy with the dirt retrieval of any of them. One even managed to plug itself up every time I used it. The dyson blew them all away. The only one that came close was the way overpriced kirby I inherited from someone else and that is very arguable. Vacuum cleaners wanted to goto a razor blade mentality. 10-15 dollars for a set of paper bags? (really?) Dyson changed that.

At the time...

Now they are pushing nearly 500 bucks for the same model (was 200ish when I got it and that was alot). I will be looking to the new ones that the other companies came up with in the 10 or so years I have had the dyson.

He has tried to add a 'flavor of apple' to his products. They are overpriced for what they are, bagless vacuum cleaners....

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 8 months ago | (#46214185)

If you're talking about the jet hand driers then Mitsubishi may have something to say about your use of the word "invented". Dyson has yet to invent anything. He has refined many things but never come up with anything original.

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 8 months ago | (#46210541)

And don't someone come up with the BS about everyone will sit around in blissful nirvana writing poetry or music or coding or go kayaking all day. It ain't going to happen.

And don't someone come up with the BS about it ain't going to happen without even bothering to state a reason.

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about 8 months ago | (#46210729)

And don't someone come up with the BS about everyone will sit around in blissful nirvana writing poetry or music or coding or go kayaking all day. It ain't going to happen.

Theoretically speaking, if you could get civilization to be sufficiently advanced with technology where we have no concern about energy and all our needs are met, you could have a "Star Trek" civilization without a problem.

However, the problem with this is between utopia and society today you have a painful growing period where there is a lot of trouble in such a transition.

Additionally, it could be such a society first requires a massive war / famine / natural disaster to get rid of the excess humanity so we can have 0.01% of the jobs available today.

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (1)

mangu (126918) | about 8 months ago | (#46210747)

And don't someone come up with the BS about everyone will sit around in blissful nirvana writing poetry or music or coding or go kayaking all day.

No, of course not. They will sit around and watch TV.

How many people have the ability and the inclination to write poetry or music or code anyhow?

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (1)

tie_guy_matt (176397) | about 8 months ago | (#46210859)

Even though the bagless vacuum cleaner is a big seller, I still think that it is a stupid concept. Yes your bagged vacuum cleaner does start to loose suction if the bag gets full (or even if the bag is not entirely full of dirt and larger particles.) That is because the bag is also the hepa filter. If your vacuum is loosing suction it is because the bag's built in hepa filter is getting clogged. In that case, just change the #$%@#$ filter! They aren't that expensive. Oh and by the way the bag doubles as a trash bag so you can throw the entire contents of the bag out and replace the filter all at once without worrying about the dusting going back into the air like what happens when you empty a bagless vacuum cleaner. One of the problems with bagless vacuum cleaners is that they sometimes will allow smaller dust particles to go through and make it out the vacuum cleaner. So to fix that they add an extra hepa filter. Guess what happens when the filter starts getting clogged? Your vacuum cleaner looses suction! So now you have the dust going back into the room when you change the bin AND you still have to change the filter. I am sorry but the entire concept just seems stupid to me.

Maybe part of the reason I don't like Dyson is that he once made a commercial saying how he improved Tesla's electric motor design. Maybe he didn't mean it like this, but to me it sounded like he was trying to say he is better than Tesla. I am sorry Dyson but you are not fit to hold Nikola Tesla's jock strap! And I personally think a lot of your big vacuum cleaner improvements are useless and stupid!

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46212219)

How is never having to replace a bag or filter a stupid concept? You're not convinced, but you don't even understand how the thing works. The HEPA filter lasts the life of the vacuum. Also, if you empty it in a sane manner, dust doesn't go all over the place, and there's this place called "outside" beyond the basement door.

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (1)

tie_guy_matt (176397) | about 8 months ago | (#46213905)

Oh, I see. I am not using the bagless vacuum correctly. The correct way to empty the bagless vacuum is to empty it outside. Right now outside is a land full of snow and sub zero (fahrenheit) temperatures! But yes going outside in the extreme cold (or in summer heat and possibly rain) does seem like a lot easier than just replacing a @#$@#$ vacuum cleaner bag inside where it is nice and warm.

And if you think your filter will never clog then you obviously have no idea at all how filters work. I guess I am not surprised that the filter often lasts longer than the vacuum; however I am sure that this has a lot more to do with the general crappiness of the vacuum than the longevity of the filter.

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46210865)

Ever think of getting a dictionary?

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (1)

locopuyo (1433631) | about 8 months ago | (#46211459)

He also came up with the best hand dryers and fans. I'm pretty sure he isn't a one hit wonder.

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 8 months ago | (#46211705)

I guess it depends on your point of view. Most of the little kids I know don't like the loud sound or the intense pressure generated by his hand dryers. Another problem for kids is that they don't work if you aren't tall enough to reach them. Not to mention, you could buy a lot of paper towels for $1350 [amazon.com] or $1899 [amazon.com] . Other electric hand dryers are much cheaper, some under $200.

Re:I'm not covinced by Dyson (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 8 months ago | (#46212121)

There is also the problem with hand-driers in that they kick up any loose bacteria in the path of the air stream. So, kind of gross to use in a bathroom.

James Dyson (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46210013)

James Dyson is a prick

It would be pricey (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46210015)

Roombas are expensive enough as it is, I can't imagine what Dyson would want for a robotic vacuum. Thousand bucks?

Dyson robots are probably going to suck ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46210027)

Or blow ...

Pun intended :-P

Finally! (0)

NotFamous (827147) | about 8 months ago | (#46210041)

It is TIME to get married, guys.

100% satisfaction and 10 years later? (3, Funny)

schneidafunk (795759) | about 8 months ago | (#46210047)

Sounds like Duke Nukem Forever.

Dyson (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46210247)

You mean the Dyson that is good at marketing bullshit making people think that his "innovative" products actually work better than regular products? Dyson that makes cheap Chinese shit flogged off as something really new and cool? That Dyson?

Dyson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46213141)

er, I think you mean Apple

Will it do stairs? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46210299)

If so, I'm buying it.

Re:Will it do stairs? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 8 months ago | (#46210497)

Ah, the Dalek problem.

Re:Will it do stairs? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 8 months ago | (#46211185)

Will it do you? If it's named Cherry 2000 . . . I'm buying two.

5 million! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46210529)

He must have sold a dozen vacuums to raise that kind of cash!

Re:5 million! (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 8 months ago | (#46210691)

5 million pounds can pay for at least 50 man-years.

That ought to be enough to develop a robotic vacuum cleaner, I'd say.

Re:5 million! (1)

RandCraw (1047302) | about 8 months ago | (#46211371)

Google just spent 100 times as much as Dyson ($700M) to hire ~100 top AI talent.

At that market rate Dyson's 5M pounds would yield a staff of five.

The problem with this is (0)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | about 8 months ago | (#46210589)

...that Dyson only knows how to make things that suck...

Re:The problem with this is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46211151)

...that Dyson only knows how to make things that suck...

Maybe he should partner up with Real Doll? Bet he'd make a fortune...

"We've got another one, Captain." (4, Funny)

StefanJ (88986) | about 8 months ago | (#46210721)

"Flesh stripped from their bones, like they were attacked by a super-powerful vacuum."

"Damn. Third one this week."

"Place sure is tidy, though."

What I'd want in a robotic vacuum (2)

mark-t (151149) | about 8 months ago | (#46210811)

We have pets, and have to vacuum a lot And what I've found, in particular, is that small and lightweight vacuums can't begin to cope with it... in my experience, the cartridge needs to be emptied about every 15 minutes for suction to be maintained, so we have to use a full-sized vacuum, with a full-sized bag, which we need to replace about once every 3 to 4 weeks. In light of that, what I'd want in a robotic vacuum is one that can automatically empty its own canister into a larger bin at its charging station whenever the robot's canister is full, such that the larger bin at the recharging station only has to be emptied out maybe every week or so, at most.

It would also be ideal for my situation if it could both a) handle carpet and tile/hardwood with equal efficacy; and b) do stairs, handling all the floors in a multilevel home or loft apartment.

When somebody invents a robotic vacuum that can do that...well...then... insert the shut-up-and-take-my-money gif here.

Re:What I'd want in a robotic vacuum (1)

operagost (62405) | about 8 months ago | (#46211085)

We have pets too... and hardwood floors, with requisite throw rugs in high-traffic areas. I have yet to see a vacuum that actually picks up hard debris on the hardwood (like gravel, or bits of cereal) instead of shooting it across the floor, or that cleans along the edges of a carpet instead of leaving it there or grabbing the edge of the throw rug. How about a suction control? My 1970s Hoover canister (RIP) had it... apparently, In 2014 I'm supposed to hang my rugs outside and beat them like it's 1914.

I've seen nothing about the Dysons that indicate they will do this. They do have a nice fat ball that keeps them from cleaning under any couches, though.

Re:What I'd want in a robotic vacuum (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 8 months ago | (#46211759)

Turn off the beater bar (usually a switch for this) when doing non-carpeted floors and you should be able to vacuum up that stuff no problem. If that still doesn't work, most vacuums make the hose easily detachable so you can vacuum up the big bits without a problem.

Ssssssuction (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | about 8 months ago | (#46211177)

The basement-dwelling subset of the Slashdot community are praying they just don't make it smart enough to talk about...alternative uses for a vaccuum.

No to Cylons! (1)

wolverine1999 (126497) | about 8 months ago | (#46211257)

No to Cylons... we had enough trouble in the Colonies thanks to them..

Speaking of things which suck... (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 8 months ago | (#46211507)

We can argue about the quality of Dyson products all we want, but be assured that all those off-topic beta posts are not losing suction.

Pardon my skepticism... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46213599)

...but I think 4.9 million pounds of that is going to "public relations". Dyson should instead invest a couple hundred thousand in designing a vacuum cleaner that isn't a noisy plastic piece of junk.

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