The End Nears: A Video Of Two Robots Building An IKEA Chair

April 18, 2018

This is a video of two 'off the shelf' industrial robotic arms building a Stephan IKEA chair. So, if you were wondering if robots are officially better at building furniture than my roommate, the answer is yes. "What's the matter with the coffee table?" *sets beer can on table, watches it slide off the end and spill* "I do suck." You're the worst. Remember when I paid you to build my bed?

Researchers report today in Science Robotics that they've used entirely off-the-shelf parts--two industrial robot arms with force sensors and a 3-D camera--to piece together [a Stephan IKEA char]. From planning to execution, it only took 20 minutes [with the actual construction taking only 8 minutes, 55 seconds].


To start, the researchers give the pair of robot arms some basic instructions--like those cartoony illustrations, but in code. This piece goes first into this other piece, then this other, etc. Then they place the pieces in a random pattern front of the robots, which eyeball the wood with the 3-D camera. So the researchers give the robots a list of tasks, then the robots take it from there.

The robots run into several problems during the chair's construction, including determining the positions of pieces, as well as thinking it's got a wooden dowel in a hole when it's really just pushing it into thin air, and making sure to not hit each other and work together to pick up pieces, but they do manage to get the job done. No word if IKEA will offer at-home robotic assembly services in the future, but one can hope. "But I thought you hated robots." I hate sleeping on a mattress on the floor even more.

Keep going for a video of the build-a-chair in action.

Thanks again to K Diddie, who agrees it doesn't matter how well you construct a piece of IKEA furniture, it's still going to self destruct after two years or a move, whichever comes first.

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