Dyson, the engineering company best known for its bagless vacuum cleaners, is to invest £5m in a robotics lab at Imperial College, London.
The research will focus on vision systems that can help robots understand and adapt to the world around them, the company said.
Dyson has been working on robotics with Imperial’s Prof Andrew Davison since 2005, and he will run the new lab.
The research will cover domestic robots as well as robotic vacuum cleaners.
Sir James Dyson said: “My generation believed the world would be overrun by robots by the year 2014. We now have the mechanical and electronic capabilities, but robots still lack understanding – seeing and thinking in the way we do.
“Mastering this will make our lives easier and lead to previously unthinkable technologies.”