AsiaIndustrial NetNews: When it comes to Dyson, the first thing we think of is either a vacuum cleaner or a unique bladeless fan. As for sweepingRobot? It seems that until the 360 eye vacuum Robot appeared in the Chinese market this year, we have not heard much about this.
In fact, Dyson has put a lot of thought into the sweeping Robot, because they have been researching and developing in this field for at least 20 years. Around 2013, Dyson even sold sweeping robots in the European and Japanese markets. But why did Dyson not introduce the robot vacuum cleaner to the Chinese market until today in 2017? We chatted with the two Dyson engineers responsible for the development of the 360 eye intelligent vacuum cleaner: Mike Aldrey and Zhang Lintong, and got some stories behind the development of the Dyson 360 eye robot vacuum cleaner.
Mike Aldred: Robotic Electronics Research Manager
Mike studied at the Department of Computer Systems Engineering at the University of Kent, Canterbury, where he obtained a PhD in Robotics. He joined Dyson after he hired the research group he was part of at the time to help Dyson develop the sweeping robot. For 15 years, his main focus has been on robotics, first as a software engineer on Dyson’s first sweeping robot, the DC06 (which was never released), and then managing the entire robotics team for the Dyson 360 Eye. Mike developed the software for Dyson’s first bladeless fan, the AMO1, in addition to managing Dyson’s electronics research group.
Zhang Lintong: Robot System Engineer
Zhang Lintong is a robotic systems engineer, focusing on the research of robotic algorithms and behaviors. He graduated from Imperial College London with a first-class master’s degree in electrical and electronic engineering, and his graduation project uses computer vision to guide drones to automatically avoid obstacles. During his studies, he interned in Dyson’s robotics department in 2014, helping the team develop the 360? Eye robot. After graduation, he returned to Dyson to continue his research in the field of robotics, with outstanding contributions in image processing, computer vision, remote sensing technology, and navigation mapping.
Q: As far as I know, Dyson has been conducting research and development in the field of cleaning robots for about 20 years, but it has never sold such products on a large scale. What is the main reason?
A: Simply put, the main reason is that the 360 eye is completely different from other vacuum cleaner robots. Everything needs to be re-developed, and good technology does take some time to develop.
For example, this DC06 prototype, which Dyson developed many years ago, used a large number of advanced sensors. It can be said to be a very innovative product in the technical environment at that time, but it was affected by the overall technical level at that time. The limitations of its size, battery life and AI performance did not satisfy us, so it was not listed in the end.
So it doesn’t make sense to launch a device that doesn’t do a good job of cleaning. The research and development of innovative technology is not easy, but once the technological innovation is successful, it will make our products unique and difficult to replicate. For example, our digital motor research and development cost 250 million pounds, and the research and development time is more than 10 years. In addition, the visual system used by 360 eye also requires huge investment and time to perfect.
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The biggest technological innovation of 360 eye robot is the perfect combination of machine vision recognition system with Dyson’s high-speed digital motor and cyclone separation technology (note: at least in the eyes of Dyson engineers, the perfect effect has been achieved). After solving the technical and engineering challenges, we wanted to make sure that it would work in a variety of real home environments, not just in the lab. So we need to consider hundreds of various parameters when writing the smart program of 360 eye – because every room in every house is different. Therefore, we have conducted thousands of real home environment tests throughout the development process, including last year we also conducted BETA tests in China. Although these extensive tests are time-consuming, they are important for further optimizing the noise level, running time of the machine. , cleaning efficiency, and other aspects of performance play a huge role, which is why it took us 20 years to finally launch the 360 eye.
Q: We all know that Dyson has very unique technology in the field of vacuum cleaners. 360 eye also uses “high-speed digital motor and cyclone separation technology” similar to vacuum cleaners, but when applied to intelligent vacuum cleaners, what new technologies exist? challenge?
A: “High-speed digital motor and cyclone separation technology” is not too difficult to apply to robot vacuum cleaners. After all, Dyson’s handheld vacuum cleaners use these two technologies and achieve miniaturization.
Our biggest challenge was to develop a vision system that matched Dyson’s cyclone technology and digital motor technology, and we underestimated how hard it would be to combine them at first!
The key to intelligent cleaning is a visual perception system that allows the robot to sense and respond to its surroundings. The human eye is composed of 2 million “parts”, and its complexity is second only to the brain. Dyson’s engineers need to understand both the human eye and the brain, and give Dyson vacuum cleaners the ability to observe and perceive the environment through complex software.
The 360 in the name of the 360 eye intelligent vacuum robot refers to its 360° vision system, which can perceive the location from a full perspective. By being able to perceive the environment from a full perspective, a visual perception system can be formed – it can know where has been cleaned and where has not been cleaned anytime, anywhere. The real-time visual perception camera takes 30 pictures per second, resulting in a complete perception of the environment, which is continuously updated. At the same time, a 360° visual perception of the surrounding environment is generated through software with instant localization and map building capabilities. Based on this, 360 eye identifies and locks on key features in the room, and uses these features to continuously triangulate the robot’s orientation. This is followed by systematic navigation and cleaning. This is like a sailor using the stars to map the position of the ship on the plane and follow the corresponding route.
Q : The 360 eye vision system will take a lot of photos, so will it store these photos? Will it lead to information leakage?
A: 360 eye will delete all stored photos after each cleaning, so there is no need to worry about privacy leakage.
Q: How does this visual perception system perform in low light and dark places? Will there be a problem of “blindness” not working?
A: We have considered this problem when developing the 360 eye vision system, so the infrared dome light is equipped so that the robot can still observe the surrounding conditions in a low-light environment, such as under objects or in the shadow of furniture . The 360° full-view camera has a 45° viewing angle above the robot, which can form an image of the entire surrounding environment. This vision system observes basic features in a room, such as lines and corners, and then continuously records these trajectories to determine its position. But the system does not currently guarantee that it will work in an environment with no brightness at all.
Q: Why is the 360 Eye equipped with a second-generation digital motor, and Dyson seems to use a higher-generation digital motor on other vacuum cleaners?
A: The design of Dyson V2 second-generation digital motor is small and powerful, which is exactly what we asked for this vacuum cleaner.
The motor is one of the smallest and fastest digital motors in the world, driving a neodymium magnet to spin at 78,000 rpm, creating a powerful suction force. Using sophisticated control algorithms, the motors are automatically regulated to optimize efficiency. The built-in microprocessor can make 3,300 speed control adjustments per second, monitoring and self-regulating the air flow of the vacuum cleaner. This makes the Dyson 360 Eye robot vacuum cleaner with more suction than any other robot vacuum cleaner.
Q: What is the battery life of the Dyson 360 Eye, how long can it work when fully charged, and how much space can it clean?
A: 360 eye can detect the battery level by itself, automatically return to the charging base to charge when the battery is too low, and then resume cleaning from the place where the cleaning was interrupted last time. It will repeat this process until all accessible areas have been cleaned (other cleaning robots currently on the market have the ability to automatically return to charging, but do not have the ability to continue returning to the last mid-point work). Under typical conditions, the 360 eye can run for 45 minutes on a full charge, but with the ability to automatically return to charging and continue cleaning, users don’t actually have to worry about its battery life, the only thing to do is to remember Dump the dust box.
Q: How is the noise performance of 360 eye? Because many users who have purchased cleaning robots have complained that too much noise will affect normal rest.
A: In a sense, the 360 eye vacuum cleaner is almost silent! Because many users often use Dyson vacuum cleaners at work or when they go out, they can see that the floor at home is clean when they go home. At this time, they only need to empty the dust box!
We of course also know that there will be people using a vacuum cleaner at home, so we put a lot of emphasis on reducing its noise level during our long-term development process. But we also have a philosophy that we don’t want to reduce noise by reducing suction. In response to this demand, the 360 eye specially added a bass operation mode when it was launched in China, mainly using additional software and motor tuning upgrades to reduce the noise level during cleaning.
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