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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S036636/1
Title: Perceiving, Modelling and Interacting with the Object-Based World
Principal Investigator: Davison, Professor AJ
Other Investigators:
Leutenegger, Dr S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Dyson Technology
Department: Computing
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 July 2019 Ends: 30 June 2024 Value (£): 2,066,563
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Artificial Intelligence Image & Vision Computing
Robotics & Autonomy
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine Manufacturing
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
"Perceiving, Modelling and Interacting Autonomously in a Dynamic Object-Based World"

The Dyson Robotics Lab at Imperial College was founded in 2014 as a collaboration between Dyson Technology Ltd and Imperial College. It is the culmination of a thirteen-year partnership between Professor Andrew Davison and Dyson to bring his Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM) algorithms out of the laboratory and into commercial robots, resulting in Dyson's 360 Eye vision-based vacuum cleaning robot in 2015 which can map its surroundings, localise and plan systematic cleaning pattern. Our success in working together made it clear that computer vision is a key enabling technology for future robots. This proposal aims to fund the Lab to push the forefront of visual scene understanding and vision-enabled robotic manipulation into new and more demanding application areas.

The research activity we are outlining in this Prosperity Partnership complements the large internal R&D investment that Dyson is making to to created advanced robotic products. The aims of this partnership are to invent and prototype the breakthrough robot vision algorithms which could truly take us to next generation capability for advanced robotics working in unstructured environments, and to transfer this technology into the long-term product pipeline of Dyson as they aim to open up new product categories.

Dyson has now been working on robotics for nearly 20 years, a period during which the emergence of real consumer robotic products has happened alongside astounding progress in academic research in the broad field of AI. At the present time, floor cleaners are still the only category of mass-market robot which have achieved significant commercial success. This can be put down simply to the greater difficulty of the other more complex tasks and chores that a consumer might want an autonomous product to achieve. These tasks place much larger demands on a robotic system to understand and interact with its complicated 3D surroundings and the objects they contain. This programme will focus on creating the research breakthroughs needed to enable this next generation capability.

There are scene perception and modelling competences which underly all of these use cases, and these will be our research focus as we develop the algorithms behind next-generation object-based SLAM systems by combining all of our knowledge in state-based estimation and machine learning. We will also work more specifically on the methods for training learning systems; methods for advanced vision-guided manipulation; and the frameworks needed for practical, contextual human-robot interaction. The core scientific work will be forward-looking and academic, but always with a strong guidance from our partners at Dyson.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk