Robots Are Just As Terrible At Assembling IKEA Furniture As Humans

Posted: Oct 3 2015, 1:06pm CDT | by , Updated: Oct 4 2015, 7:12pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Robots are just as Terrible in Assembling IKEA Furniture as Humans

A robot found it hard to insert a pin in a wooden stick, let alone building whole chair.

IKEA provides furniture that is self-assembled. Many people find it difficult to put different pieces together and come up with the desired result. For all those who are facing this problem, don’t get upset. There is something which will make you feel better. 

According to a new study, not only humans but even robots are terrible in assembling IKEA furniture. 

Two researchers Francisco Suarez-Ruiz and Quang-Cuong Pham at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, set themselves the goal of constructing an IKEA chair using a robot. But robots simply could not accomplish the task. 

The robot, which was developed to assemble the chair, had two arms capable of six-asix motion each equipped with parallel grippers to pick up objects. The respective task was limited to just entering the small pin into hole, not assembling the whole chair.

This activity was further divided into three sub tasks. First, one arm has to locate the pin and picking it up. Second, the other arm has to locate the piece of wood and pick it up. Finally, the robot has to locate the hole and insert the pin into wooden piece.

The task requires several capabilities like motion planning, object localization and contact interactions. The machine found it easier to grip the pin and the wooden stick but struggled detecting the hole and barely managed to insert the pin into the two pieces of wood.

“Fine robotic assembly, in which the parts to be assembled are small and fragile and lie in an unstructured environment, is still out of reach of today's industrial robots,” study reads. “The main difficulties arise in the precise localization of the parts in an unstructured environment and the control of contact interactions.”

Machines are designed to achieve many delicate tasks but certainly they this task was something beyond their capacity. They are not good enough for it. At least not yet.

“Our contribution in this paper is twofold,” researchers wrote. “First, we propose a taxonomy of the manipulation primitives that are specifically involved in fine assembly. Such a taxonomy is crucial for designing a scalable robotic system (both hardware and software) given the complexity of real-world assembly tasks. 

“Second, we present a hardware and software architecture where we have addressed, in an integrated way, a number of issues arising in fine assembly.”

Nevertheless, researches are considering this effort a significant step towards the achieving the aim. The duo is determined to go further. “This work will continue until completion of all the tasks required for assembling an IKEA chair.”

The full study can be read here.

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The Author

Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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