In the last few months we’ve seen robots open doors and resist bullies. However, that doesn’t strike fear into our hearts like the news robots can now assemble IKEA furniture in 20 minutes without blowing a gasket.
Researchers in Singapore supplied industrial robots arms with the flatpack plans in the form of code, rather than those horrendously vague assembly instructions.
They used a 3D camera and a force sensor in order to assemble the Stefan chair in less time than it takes for a human to lose their temper with the project.
The engineers at Nanyang Technological University laid the pieces out in front of the robots in a random pattern. They use the camera to identify the correct piece, before executing the commands in order.
As one robot harm holds the piece of wood in the right place, the other will insert the wooden peg to secure the pieces.
“What the robot does is to first figure out where exactly is the original position of the frame and then calculates the motion of the two arms automatically to go and grasp it and transport it.” engineer Quang-Cuong Pham told Wired.
Trial and error
The report goes on to goes on to explain that, just like us, the robot uses a little trial and error. The camera is only accurate to a few millimetres, so it feels around for the hole. Once the force sensor feels it go in a little bit, it will then apply more pressure (ahem!).
The system isn’t perfect yet. If there’s a small error in the plans, the engineers say the robot arms could end up battling against each other and breaking the parts.
However, the robots have succeeded in this instance. The plan is now to simply show it an assembled chair and have the robots figure it out how to replicate it themselves.
“I would envision this last step not in the next probably five or six years or so,” Pham added.
Unfortunately the robot duo isn’t available for bookings yet, so we’re stuck assembling IKEA furniture again this weekend.
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