If often feels like you need an engineering degree to assemble Ikea flatpack furniture. But what if you could get a robot to put together a Stefan chair for you?
Researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have done just that, coding a pair of robotic arms with the flatpack’s set of instructions.
“What the robot does is to first figure out where exactly is the original position of the frame,” engineer Quang-Cuong Pham told Wired, “and then calculates the motion of the two arms automatically to go and grasp it and transport it.”
The robot completed the chair in just over 20 minutes using 3D cameras and force sensors.
“Putting together a chair requires a combination of complex movements that, in turn, depends on such skills as vision, limb coordination, and the ability to control force,” write the researchers. “Until now, that was too much to ask of even a sophisticated robot.”
Even though the task was a success, it will be a while before you see a robot at your local Ikea.
Head engineer Quang-Cuom Phang explained to Wired, “The final level is we show the robot an image of the assembled chair and then it has to figure it out. But I would envision this last step not in the next probably five or six years or so.”
So the next time you're struggling with a flatpack, take comfort in the fact that artificial intelligence finds it tricky, too.
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