Sir James Dyson on robot vacuums: Not good enough!

By | February 19, 2013

Sir James DysonSir James Dyson, the man whose name is synonymous with vacuum cleaners that work (among other wonderful inventions) recently expressed his opinion on the robot vacuums available in the market today. He is not impressed considering them just a gimmick!

It was iRobot just a few years ago that created the Roomba essentially the first robot vacuum that was worth paying money for (and at the time reasonable priced as well!) The company has been extremely successful selling Roombas and other related cleaning robots (and the also very successful and useful Packbot line of military and law enforcement robots). Since Roomba was introduced just 10 years ago, it has sold more than 3 million units. That’s good for a domestic robot that costs only a few hundred dollars. This explains why in the last few years, there has been a plethora of other companies introducing similar robot vacuum cleaners often at a higher price but not necessarily doing a better job.

Regardless, Dyson is not shy on declaring that these gimmicks are both terrible vacuum cleaners (and he knows a lot about vacuuming) and robots. He things that a vacuum cleaners current offerings do a bad job at actually cleaning the floor. And as robots, they are not very intelligent in how they do their job and tend to be very inefficient at that; this should not be a surprise to those of us who are familiar with Rodney Brook’s (co-founder of iRobot) ideas on robot design and programming which advocate simplistic, insect-like, sensing and decision making for robots.

So, other than criticizing others, what is Dyson up to when it comes to robot vacuums? Well, he did not say that he doesn’t think that it is a good product idea; he simply expressed his opinion that there is plenty of room for a better product. And since he did not dismiss the possibility of his company entering this space, I would say that a Dyson robot vacuum is very likely to be introduced within a year or two. The question will then be, is it all that Sir Sames Dyson thinks it is going to be compared to the competition?

Time will tell!