Robots can now assemble your flat-pack furniture

Robots can now assemble your flat-pack furniture

Yolanda Curtis
April 20, 2018

The actual assembly phase took 8 minutes and 55 seconds.

Researchers at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University spent three years programming robots to accomplish the specific tasks necessary to build this particular chair.

Comprising a 3D camera and two robotic arms with grippers, the dexterous robot is programmed to carry out the construction independently.

"For a robot, putting together an Ikea chair with such precision is more complex than it looks", said Assistant Professor Pham Quang Cuong, who is part of the three-member team.

The team is now looking into further developing the robot so it can learn to construct furniture by copying humans, reading an instruction manual or even just viewing a finished product.

"In the future, we envision that robots like this should be helping with tedious or unsafe tasks", Dr. Francisco Suárez-Ruiz, a researcher on the team, told The Verge.

After years of failed attempts, a research team in Singapore has successfully taught a pair of robots to do something that many humans still can't: build an IKEA chair.

The engineers equipped each arm with similar range of motion to that of a human.

The robot starts the assembly process by taking 3D photos of the parts laid out on the floor to generate a map of the estimated positions of the different parts.

On its wrists are sensors that determine how strongly its "fingers" grip and push objects. This motion pathway needs to be integrated with visual and tactile perception, grasping and execution.

They said the human-quality of robotic hands enables it to perform complex tasks. Scientists had to program the movements in advance for this test, but they say that with advances in AI, it will be able to be take on other IKEA kits on its own. "This includes being able to map the exact locations of the items, plan a collision-free motion path, and control the amount of force required". The team is now working alongside automotive and aircraft manufacturers to see how this robot could be used in their respective industries.

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