If you like the look and price tag of IKEA furniture but hate the assembly process, you’re not alone. Hilarious, satirical videos make light of the very frustrating, curse-worthy process of piecing together what feels like a million parts into the piece of furniture you admired in the photo or on the showroom floor. Now there’s finally some hope in the form of a robot! A team of researchers at Control Robotics Intelligence (CRI) group at NTU in Singapore have designed the IKEABot.
In a paper titled “Can Robots Assemble an IKEA Chair?,” Francisco Suárez-Ruiz and a team of engineers demonstrated the ability of a robot to assemble an IKEA chair in about 20 minutes.
The research has come a long way, having begun in 2015 when Suárez-Ruiz and his colleagues set a goal of building a robot from off-the-shelf parts that could assemble a variety of everyday human objects.
The IKEABot consists of two industrial-style robot arms with grippers and force sensors for hands and 3-D cameras for eyes. The researchers took pieces out of the box of a basic chair from IKEA and placed them randomly within the environment.
The IKEABot is semi-autonomous, according to the researchers. “…although all the steps were automatically planned and controlled, their sequence was hard-coded through a considerable engineering effort.” The robot won’t get frustrated (a trait that seems to be synonymous with humans and the IKEA furniture assembly process), and is capable of using basic problem solving techniques to figure out next steps.
There’s no word on when the IKEABot will hit the market, but as noted in 2015 by the MIT Technology Review, it doesn’t look like the robot will be a common fixture in homes anytime soon. The article notes, “…the biggest problem is that this system cannot interact with humans, who have to be kept away entirely lest the robot injure them.”