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“Without human nerves”: robots were able to assemble a chair from IKEA

Reuters photo
Reuters photo

Industrial robots have been collecting cars and other equipment for many years – in this case they know to the accuracy of a millimeter where to insert the parts. But the assembly of furniture became a problem for devices because of the need to work with small objects, to control the movements of several “hands” and to compare the details with each other. In 2015, scientists at the Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) taught the robot one function – to insert a wooden dowel into the groove.

Three years later, the same engineers were able to use robots to assemble a chair from IKEA, intended for human assembly. Two “robots” with force sensors and a 3-D camera independently found grooves and coordinated actions to help each other. To bring the experiment closer to “human conditions”, engineers arranged the details in random places – the devices themselves were looking for them.

The assembly of the chair took about 20 minutes for robots: more than half the time was spent planning and searching for details. Wired journalists noted that the technology will help people to assemble furniture from IKEA without “nervous breakdowns and curses against their dog”.

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