Drop the Allen key… scientists design IKEA-building robots equipped with AI

Daniel Fowler
April 20, 2018

Well, it's one step closer to the singularity and humanity has trumped again making a bot assemble an IKEA chair for you. But thanks to AI, assembling the retailer's chairs could be a nuisance of the past. They are the Singapore scientists who have made the imagination altered into the reality by building the impressive robot.

Researchers from Nanyang Technoligical University in Singapore developed algorithms to help the robot build the chair.

The robot then took around 3 seconds to locate and identify all the parts required and then 11 minutes to understand how to put the chair together.

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A robot in Singapore has reportedly achieved something humans have never done - assemble an IKEA furniture without having a meltdown.

The scientists bought a simple IKEA chair and placed its parts randomly around the robot, replicating the clutter humans get when unpacking a delivery. 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.

"So it can learn the different steps of assembling a chair through human demonstration or by reading the instruction manual, or even from an image of the assembled product", he said. Some of the same things humans struggle with, like fiddling with bags of screws, dowels, and doodads while trying to distinguish the slight variations in shape, are also hard for robots. 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 way we have built our robot, from the parallel grippers to the force sensors on the wrists, all work towards manipulating objects in a way humans would". They are also looking to introduce the artificial intelligence into the automotive and aircraft manufacturing industries.

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