Inventor Sir James Dyson has said "previously unthinkable technologies" could be possible if robots could see what was happening around them.
The entrepreneur, 66, famous for inventing the bagless Dyson vacuum cleaner, said "mastering this will make our lives easier".
Dyson is investing £5 million into a joint robotics lab with Imperial College London for research focusing on vision systems.
It is hoped this will lead to new robotic capabilities - creating a generation of robots that understand the world around them and which can intelligently interact as it changes.
Sir James 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."
Dyson has been researching robotics for the past 15 years, and since 2005 it has been working with Imperial College and Professor Andrew Davison to develop machines that use vision to logically navigate their surroundings.
Robotic vacuum cleaners are one area of study, alongside research into other types of domestic robots.
Prof Davison said: "A truly intelligent domestic robot needs to complete complex everyday tasks while adapting to a constantly changing environment.
"We will research and develop systems that allow machines to both understand and perceive their surroundings - using vision to achieve it."