Robot puts IKEA chair together in 20 minutes

Robot puts IKEA chair together in 20 minutes

In what could be yet another sign that machines are getting ever closer to a Skynet-style uprising, engineers in Singapore have created a robot that can assemble Ikea furniture quicker than most humans, and without experiencing a stress-induced fit of rage. In this case it's an IKEA chair and they wanted to see if AI could be competitive with humans in this task. It is equipped with its own "eyes and hands" - a 3D camera, sensors and two robotic arms fitted with grippers allowing it to pick up objects.

That may soon be a thing of the past thanks to scientists at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore who have developed a robot that can build an Ikea chair in 20 minutes. Finally, the arms worked together to find out where the holes in each wooden pin were and pressed the parts together.

It took the robot just three seconds to locate all the parts by taking 3D photos and generating a map of their estimated positions.

The researchers are looking to develop the robot so it can learn to assemble furniture through human demonstration or by reading instructions. It put the chair together in about 20 minutes with the human team beating this time by 50 seconds.

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Next, using algorithms developed by the team, the robot plans a two-handed motion that is fast and collision-free.

To make sure that the robotic arms are able to grip the pieces tightly and perform tasks such as inserting wooden plugs, the amount of force exerted has to be regulated. Especially when you consider the robot that ended up in a public fountain when it was supposed to police the Washington Harbor complex, or another that tripped and fell over a light projector during a demo onstage. Cost is not expected to be an issue as all the components in the robotic setup can be bought off the shelf.

"We have achieved the low-level capability to teach the robot "how to do it" and then in the next five to 10 years, high-level reasoning - the "what to do" - could be done too", team member Quang-Cuong Pham told Reuters.

The university said the team is now working on making the robot master glass bonding that could be useful in the automotive industry, and drilling holes in metal components for the aircraft manufacturing industry. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore's medical district.

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