Dyson originally announced plans to launch a robot vacuum cleaner back in 2004 with its DC06, but the project was eventually binned. It was announced last year, though, that the company was still working to produce a robotic vacuum cleaner.
The 360 Eye is said to be the culmination of 16 years of research by more than 200 engineers and £28m (US$46m) of investment. According to Dyson, a team of 31 robotic software engineers spent over 100,000 hours creating the device's navigation system, using algebra, probability theory, geometry and trigonometry.
Dyson says that other existing robotic vacuum cleaners have a number of failings, including lack of suction power, navigating environments without actually "seeing" them, use of rotating sweepers that do not lift dirt particles adequately, and using wheels that do not allow them to move around as well as might be possible.
Dyson has sought to remedy each of these issues with the 360 Eye. It uses a V2 Dyson digital motor and Dyson's Radial Root Cyclone technology to deliver suction that the company says will not lose power and will capture particles down to 0.5 microns in size. A 360-degree panoramic camera coupled with infrared sensors allows the cleaner to visualize the room and work out its location. It then uses landmarks in the room, such as pieces of furniture, to navigate its way around.
A carbon fiber brush bar is used, which Dyson says will remove fine dust on hard floors, and stiff nylon bristles are employed to work their way into and clean carpets. The 360 Eye also uses tank tracks instead of wheels to move around, which are said to better maintain speed and direction, as well as help the device to overcome small obstacles. That said, it should be noted that at the demo we saw at IFA, the Dyson reps admitted that it cannot reach dirt in the very corners of rooms.
The cleaner's camera images at up to 30 frames per second to provide an accurate visualization of its surrounding environment. Dyson says the device is accurate to within millimeters. It weighs 2.37 kg (5.22 lb) and can hold up to 0.4 l (0.09 gal) of dust and dirt. It is powered by a lithium-ion battery, which can be fully charged in two hours on its slimline dock and will give about 30 - 40 minutes of cleaning time. The machine will self-dock and recharge itself when the battery runs low.
In addition to setting the 360 Eye going manually, users can program it via an iOS mobile app. Dyson Link allows users to schedule it to clean at a specific time (for example, before they return from holiday) or on a recurring schedule.
The Dyson 360 Eye will be available in Japan from spring 2015, with the rest of the world to follow. There's no word yet on pricing.