Well scientists in Singapore have proved a basic robot can achieve more than a DIY enthusiast can and assemble a flat packed chair — in just 20 minutes. The robot has 3D cameras for eyes, each arm is capable of a six axis motion and has fingers with force sensors on wrists to judge how strong its grip needs to be.
Assistant Pham Quang Cuong and a team of researchers at Nanyang Technical University used a robot, programmed the robot with a code and set it the task of assembling a STEFFAN chair.
A task that can take days, hours and often viewed as one of the hardest human tasks at all, took the robot 11 minutes to decipher the instructions and assemble the chair in just under nine minutes.
"For a robot, putting together an IKEA chair with such precision is more complex than it looks," Assistant Professor Pham said in a statement.
"The job of assembly, which may come naturally to humans, has to be broken down into different steps, such as identifying where the different chair parts are, the force required to grip them and making sure the robotic arms move without colliding into each other."
AI for DIY
Professor Pham says the robot was able to assemble the chair on its own thanks to algorithms developed by engineers and the team are "looking to integrate more artificial intelligence into this approach."
Square peg in a round hole? Not for this #NTUsg robot. With two robotic arms and 8 mins 55 seconds, it put together an #IKEA chair. Next up for it are jobs that require more dexterity, like glass bonding for the automobile industry. #NTUsgResearch https://t.co/IMuDhLpISA @IKEAUSA pic.twitter.com/EUO2ws28mp— NTU Singapore (@NTUsg) April 19, 2018
"The robot starts the assembly process by taking 3D photos of parts laid out on the floor to generate a map of the estimated positions of the different parts" Scientists explained, replicating the cluttered environment humans usually create when unpacking a box.
I hate flat pack stuff…..Flat pack hero: Robot assembles IKEA chair in less than 9 minutes (VIDEO) https://t.co/bw7Wbn5k7H— ❄♡☆~Gigi-G~☆♡❄ (@G1G1_G) April 19, 2018
The robot is an 'off the shelf' model, not a bespoke one, which means costs aren't high, enabling more research to be carried out and the team of scientists have their sights higher than just assembling IKEA chairs — although, that is groundbreaking stuff for laziest home-maker — and are working on deploying the robot in the car and aircraft industry.
The paper "can robots assemble an IKEA chair? is published in Science Robotics