Friday, April 20, 2018

Autonomous Robots 'May' Have Mastered The Assembly Of IKEA Furniture

Just as Facebook could not be certain that Zuckerberg 2.0 could pass a Turing test until they sat him in front of Congress, so robots must assemble IKEA furniture.
Or something.
I just wanted to use the Turing test line—appropriated from The Register—before it gets too stale.

From IEEE Spectrum:

Robots Continue Attempting to Master Ikea Furniture Assembly
These robots are slow, careful, and successful, making them way better than humans at assembling an Ikea chair
Apparently, one of the standards by which we should be measuring the progress of useful robotic manipulation is through the assembly of Ikea furniture. With its minimalistic and affordable Baltoscandian design coupled with questionably creditable promises of effortless assembly, Ikea has managed to convince generations of inexperienced and desperate young adults (myself included) that we can pretend to be grownups by buying and putting together our own furniture. It’s never as easy as that infuritatingly calm little Ikea manual dude makes it look, though, and in terms of things we wish robots would solve, Ikea furniture assembly has ended up way higher on the priority list than maybe it should be.

We’ve seen a variety of robotic systems tackle Ikea in the past, but today in Science Robotics is (perhaps for the first time) a mostly off-the-shelf system of a few arms and basic sensors that can put together the frame of a Stefan chair kit autonomously(ish) and from scratch.

This research comes from the Control Robotics Intelligence (CRI) group at NTU in Singapore, and they’ve been working on the whole Ikea chair assembly thing for a while. First, they had to teach robots to insert those wooden pins that Ikea uses to connect parts to one another:...
...IkeaBot in particular is notable because it’s fully autonomous— the system doesn’t require human input of any sort, not even instructions. Rather, it uses a reasoning system to determine the best way to fit all of the parts together, utilizing all available holes for fasteners and all available parts, and follows its own optimized assembly technique to end up with a piece of furniture that ends up being what Ikea intended it to be almost by default.

The assembly process from CRI is not quite that autonomous; "although all the steps were automatically planned and controlled, their sequence was hard-coded through a considerable engineering effort."...MORE

The blooper reel is not as amusing as one might suppose, people are still funnier.