The researchers had to program the robot with some basic instructions first, such as what the chair looks like and what order the parts are put together.
Robots in Singapore have completed a task many humans dread - assembling flat-packed IKEA furniture. The robots are able to assemble a chair in a little over twenty minutes, with 11 minutes and 21 seconds dedicated to planning and 8 minutes and 55 seconds devoted to actual construction.
It was developed by scientists at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. "The job of assembly, which may come naturally to humans, has to be broken down into different steps, such as identifying where the different chair parts are, the force required to grip the parts, and making sure the robotic arms move without colliding into each other", said the project's lead researcher, Pham Quang Cuong.
"The robot starts the assembly process by taking 3D photos of parts laid out on the floor to generate a map of the estimated positions of the different parts" Scientists explained, replicating the cluttered environment humans usually create when unpacking a box. Then it designs and executes a plan to assemble the furniture using algorithms developed by the NTU team. This movement pathway should be incorporated with visual and material recognition, getting a handle on and execution.
To ensure that the mechanical arms can grasp the pieces firmly and perform assignments, for example, embeddings wooden fittings, the measure of power applied must be directed.
Created to operate using a six-axis motion, the robotic arms are equipped with grippers - that enable them to pick up objects - and force sensors - that determine how strongly the "fingers" are gripping and how powerfully they push objects into contact.
The robot also has sensors on its wrists so it can determine how much force is needed to perform each task.
And while a robot can be programmed to do a single assembly-line task efficiently, mastering all of the small tasks that IKEA assembly requires is a bigger challenge.
Scientists are exploring to deploy the robot to do glass bonding that could be useful in the automotive industry, and drilling holes in metal components for the aircraft manufacturing industry.
The article can be found at: Suárez-Ruiz et al.