Guest lecture: Prof. Robert Deaves, Robotics System Architect, Dyson

The School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering welcomed Prof. Robert Deaves, Robotics System Architect at Dyson for a guest lecture and demonstration of the 360 VisNav.

Prof. Robert Deaves has over 35 years of engineering experience gained at three iconic companies: BAE Systems, STMicroelectronics and Dyson respectively.

Rob is an industrial Chartered Engineer and has achieved fellowships from the Institution of Engineering Technology (FIET) and Higher Education Academy (FHEA). He has also been awarded fellowships of the Learned Society of Wales (FLSW) and of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng).

He was awarded a RAEng Visiting Professorship at Imperial College London in 2017 enabling teaching support for 33 national and international universities. Further, he is an Honorary Professor at the School of Engineering, University of Birmingham. He has also chaired EPSRC/ERDF research projects with a total funding of £15M (including PAMELA, Brains-on-Board, CRADDLE and IROHMS).

The main themes of his work are related to robotics, with research into navigation algorithms, particularly Simultaneous Localisation and Map Building (SLAM), development of embedded technologies, specifically System-on-Chip devices, and autonomous robot full product life cycle, specifically the Dyson 360Heurist and 360VisNav.

At Dyson, Rob is a Robotics System Architect working on full product lifecycle. He was the Product Technical Lead for the 360Heurist and System Architect for the 360VisNav. These autonomous vacuum cleaners have achieved mass market and worldwide sales.

The lecture started with a brief overview of Rob’s career history and role as a Robotics System Architect at Dyson, followed by an overview of the main components of the 360VisNav, Dyson’s third worldwide sales, mass market robotic vacuum cleaner. The robot's sensors, electronics and actuators were available for attendees to handle and inspect. Rob then talked through the major component of the robot, its visual-based SLAM system. The lecture concluded with an overview of future research directions and examples of robots for sustainability, and a demonstration of the 360VisNav.

A photograph of Prof. Robert Deaves demonstrating the 360VisNav in a lecture theatre, surrounded by a group of students.


Dr Tim Amsdon, Deputy Director of Student Education (Taught Programmes) and Lecturer in Embedded Systems in the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, who organised and attended the lecture, said "Rob's lecture was exceptionally engaging, sparking a lively exchange between him and our students on the advanced topics of SLAM and robotics. It was inspiring to see such enthusiastic interaction, and we truly enjoyed every aspect of his visit. We hope to welcome Rob back soon for more enlightening discussions and demonstrations."

After the event, Prof. Robert Deaves said: “It was fantastic to visit the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Leeds and provide a guest lecture on the 360VisNav, Dysons’ 3rd robotic vacuum cleaner on the market.

It was great to link the taught work at the University to the development work at Dyson to produce an autonomous, mass production, World-wide sale robotic products; and to provide a glimpse of future autonomous robotics. The students were hugely engaged and asked some very pertinent questions during the lecture, robot demonstration and Q&A session!

I hope their interest and engagement will encourage them to consider engineering careers in robotics. Finally, I would like to thank Dr Tim Amsdon for arranging the visit and the students/staff for making it such an enjoyable event. I’m already looking forward to my next trip to the University of Leeds!”

A photograph of Prof. Robert Deaves and Dr Tim Amsdon, with a group of students.