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Moon-Landing Equivalent For Robotics: Assembling an Ikea Chair

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Robot arms working on a sub-task in the assembly of an IKEA chair.

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore are working to develop a robot that will be capable of assembling an IKEA chair on its own.


Researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore are developing a robot that will be able to assemble an IKEA chair.

Francisco Suarez-Ruiz and Quang-Cuong Pham's robot consists of a pair of robotic arms, which are capable of six-axis motion and equipped with parallel grippers featuring force sensors that enable them to "feel" how tightly they are gripping objects or how hard they are pushing on them. The robot also includes a vision system featuring six cameras, which offer the ability to track up to five objects with a positional accuracy of about three millimeters.

Suarez-Ruiz and Pham are tackling the task of assembling the chair by breaking down the process into a variety of sub-tasks, one of which is inserting a small wooden dowel into another piece of wood. However, this task alone has been challenging: the dowel and the hole it is inserted to are at the very edge of the robot's visual range, so it cannot easily "see" what it is doing. Instead, it has to use its pressure sensors to feel its way toward the dowel to pick it up and then it gently presses the dowel against the piece of wood until it locates the hole.

From Technology Review
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