Dyson challenges engineers to design and develop an intelligent machine in 24 hours

In Dyson’s Research, Design and Development hubs in the UK and Singapore, 200 hardware and mechanical engineers teamed up with software and electronics engineers, to take part in a digital codeathon. The challenge channelled skills in connectivity, AI, machine learning and smart navigation systems.

The challenge was to design and develop an intelligent machine based on one of the following themes: The Connected Home, Gamification of Dyson Products and Accessibility through Usability. And do it all in 24 hours.

On average participants slept for just two hours during the event, wrote over 6,000 lines of code, and consumed more than 500 energy drinks and coffee.

The winning group in the UK modified a Jake Dyson CSYS light, by augmenting its motors drive mechanism, connecting these to an Arduino electronics board and using computer programming to transfer data to the light. The result meant that the machine could register and draw highly detailed images, including a portrait of Jake Dyson himself.

Darren Lewis, mechatronics design engineer, said: “We first converted an image into line paths that a pen could trace. Position co-ordinates describing the paths were then sent from a laptop to an Arduino electronic board which drives three motors controlling movement on a modified Dyson CSYS light. The pen is coupled to our motors via our inventive drive mechanism which uses only one belt to control both the vertical and horizontal movements.”

Other projects included smart home sensory systems able to detect individuals within different rooms using cluedo algorithms, and virtual reality worlds which used 3D imagery mapping from pictures taken by a drone. One group built an app, which was connected to a Raspberry Pi, and able to play ‘I spy with my little eye’ with the user, by automatically selecting an object in a room and sending clues to a smart phone.