Flying AI vacuum takes off at Brighton design showcase

A University of Brighton student has designed a flying AI vacuum concept that creates a map of its surroundings and cleans autonomously.

AI vacuum
(Credit: University of Brighton)

Known as VacHumme, the hummingbird-inspired device is the brainchild of Tom Harding. It uses an AI function to map the room, flying to various surfaces and sucking up dirt via a long tube. Its memory of the space will grow stronger with each cleaning sortie, meaning the AI vacuum will eventually able to tell whether furniture has been moved and adapt its route accordingly.

The only human intervention required is an occasional emptying of the vacuum chamber, as the device has a wireless charging station. VacHumme was on display at the University of Brighton’s recent Product Design showcase, which challenged students to ‘design a product which would help someone over the age of 30 who is living alone’.

“From this brief I decided to create a product which would reduce the amount of work a single person has to do to keep their house in order,” said Tom. “Following this I tried to think of a situation that everyone must do but not very many people enjoy doing. It was only when I went home shortly after the brief was set that, while helping out with the cleaning at home, I stopped to consider how many jobs the four of us were accomplishing.

“The only job we all did was dusting the house. It was then a small leap of logic to assume every household was the same, and that I only needed to conduct research to see if my theory was correct.”

Research from the Office for National Statistics shows roughly 28 per cent of households in the UK contain just one person, meaning the idea of the traditional home is changing. As a result, household appliances and their requirements are changing. It was this increase in ‘single living’ that informed the theme of the showcase.

“It was very encouraging to see that the students had responded to their brief with intelligence and sensitivity,” said Damon Taylor, senior lecturer in Architecture and Design at Brighton.

“The prototypes they are exhibiting in this show demonstrate a depth of research and a real effort to innovate around an issue that is the mark of good design. They are also in many cases showing a real ability to engineer viable solutions to difficult problems while crafting functional and desirable products that people would really use.”