Even a Robot Developed to Assemble IKEA Furniture Still Can't Assemble Ikea Furniture

Friday, 02 October 2015 - 10:15AM
Robotics
Friday, 02 October 2015 - 10:15AM
Even a Robot Developed to Assemble IKEA Furniture Still Can't Assemble Ikea Furniture
Researchers have just scientifically proven that IKEA furniture is impossible to assemble. School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Nanyang Technological University developed a robot for the express purpose of assembling an IKEA chair, but it still can't actually finish the chair. Even with state-of-the-art technology, the researchers could only teach it to insert a pin into two pieces of wood.



The robot essentially consists of two disembodied arms, as well as six cameras, or "eyes," that can track up to five objects with an accuracy of 3mm. The grippers on the robot's hands are equipped with force sensors in order to allow it to "feel" its way through the task and measure how much force is necessary to move an object.

The researchers' goal was to teach the robot to build a chair, but teaching it to insert the pin, or dowel, was incredibly involved on its own. They taught the robot to complete the task by dividing it into three sub-tasks: locating and reaching for the pin, using its grippers to pick up the pin, and inserting the pin into the hole in the wood. The task required motion planning, localization, and contact interactions, all of which are programmed with extremely complex algorithms.

Opening quote
"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," the authors concluded in their paper. "The main difficulties arise in the precise localization of the parts in an unstructured environment and the control of contact interactions."
Closing quote

So while it's possible that we may have to worry about the robotic singularity in terms of intelligence, we don't need to worry about a physical robopocalypse anytime soon, as robotic bodies are not even close to human bodies in agility or fine motor skills. Many AI theorists predict that robots will possess human-level intelligence long before they possess human-like bodies; as Adam Rutherford, scientific advisor on the film Ex Machina, said earlier this year,

Opening quote
"Ava's body... is probably decades from realization. Currently, scientists struggle to get robots to do things we find trivially easy: they can drive a car, but not actually get into one. Four billion years of evolution is a hefty head start."
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Via Business Insider.
Science
Technology
Robotics

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