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Flat pack hero: Robot assembles IKEA chair in less than 9 minutes (VIDEO)

Flat pack hero: Robot assembles IKEA chair in less than 9 minutes (VIDEO)
Scientists have created an agile robot that can assemble an IKEA chair in under 9 minutes – potentially taking the dreaded task off human hands and putting an end to DIY disasters.

The robot, which successfully put together an IKEA chair autonomously and without interruption, was developed by scientists at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

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Prior to assembling the piece of furniture, the robot spent less than 11.30 minutes planning the task – and took a mere three seconds to locate the parts. After that it needed just eight minutes 55 seconds to finish the job.

Comprising a 3D camera and two robotic arms with grippers, the dexterous robot is programmed to carry out the construction independently.

“For a robot, putting together an IKEA chair with such precision is more complex than it looks. 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 the parts, and making sure the robotic arms move without colliding into each other,” said the project’s lead researcher, Pham Quang Cuong.

Developers designed the robots to mimic how humans would complete the same task. It first takes 3D photos of the parts laid out on the floor to create a map of the estimated positions of the different parts – essentially replicating the scattered scene facing humans after they’ve taken the parts out of the box and prepare to build the chair.

The robot also has sensors on its wrists so it can determine how much force is needed to perform each task. “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,” Quang Cuong said.

The team’s ultimate goal is to develop a robot that can construct an object by reading an instruction manual or looking at an image. First though, researchers are hoping to improve the robot’s dexterity so they can apply their technology to the automotive and aircraft manufacturing industry. The study ‘Can robots assemble an IKEA chair’ has been published in the journal Science Robotics.

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