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Dyson goes robotic with super-smart 360 Eye vacuum

Dyson's first robot vacuum is here, but the 360 Eye isn't a compromised cleaner - it's still got serious suction

After teasing us with a behind the scenes video shot at the company’s R&D laboratories, Dyson has officially announced the 360 Eye – it’s first (commercially available) robot vacuum cleaner. 16 years in the making, it’s been a long time coming, but it might also be the first robot that could feasibly replace a traditional vacuum.

A distant descendant of the DC06 robot vacuum that never actually made it to market, the 360 Eye is a sleek machine that echoes the company’s existing line-up of traditional vacuum cleaners and blameless fans. Built using tried and tested technologies found in Dyson’s larger machines, the 360 eye is a vacuum first, and a robot second.

Taller than robot vacuums from the likes of Samsung, LG and Roomba, the 360 Eye might not be able to fit under your sofa but it’s much less likely to get stuck on other parts of the furniture. It also makes room for a more powerful digital motor – almost putting it on par with Dyson’s cordless DC59 in terms of suction, which is significantly higher than any other robot vacuum currently on the market.

The 360 Eye gets its name from the panoramic camera built into the top of the unit. Unlike IR sensing robot vacuums, which have a habit of getting lost or easily distracted when objects walk in their path, Dyson’s machine detects both permanent and temporary obstacles. If you walk in front of it, it won’t simply turn around and attempt to clean an area it’s already covered – it will find a way around and continue to clean new areas instead.

The machine’s circular shape lets the cleaner get right into the corners of rooms, while the slightly protruding brush bar was designed to get into the very edge of skirting boards. It has the same carbon fibre bristles for catching fine dust as Dyson’s full-size machines, meaning you won’t need to follow up after it yourself as you might with a traditional robot vac. The entire chassis is built on a bumper mechanism, so it won’t damage your furniture if it has a collision.

The rechargeable lithium battery isn’t designed to power the 360 Eye to complete a full circuit of your home in one session; instead it puts more power into the motor for increased suction, but is smart enough to save enough charge to get back to its base unit in order to get more juice. Charging time should be around one and a half hours, and depending on the size of your house the idea is to start it off first thing then come home after work to find the job done. You can then empty the 0.4l bin so it’s ready for the next day.

It won’t matter if your floors are hard wood, carpeted or a mixture of the two, as Dyson has fitted catarpillar tracks rather than wheels to provide plenty of grip regardless of floor surface. This allows it to climb over small elevations, so cables, rugs and other minor obstructions won’t slow it down. It also creates a steady base for the upwards-facing camera, which provides 360 degree views to the internal robotics.

Dyson is also releasing a companion app, available on iOS and Android, to control the 360 Eye. You’ll be able to use it to set cleaning schedules, check cleaning maps to work out what areas are being missed and whether you’ll need to move your furniture, and activate the cleaner remotely over the internet – so you can be sure the floors are clean when you get home from work. It will also report troubleshooting errors to your smartphone, letting you know if it starts to lose suction based on an internal airflow sensor to warn you it may be time to wash the filter, empty the bin or remove a larger obstruction.

The Dyson 360 Eye will be going on sale in Japan from spring next year, with a UK launch not expected until Q2 next year. Unfortunately we weren’t told what the machine would cost, but don’t expect it to be cheap – with existing robot vacuums from other companies costing upwards of £600, we’re expecting something similar or higher.

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News | IFA