Robots can now assemble IKEA’s furniture

Researchers at Singapire’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have programmed two robotic arms that can automatically assemble an IKEA chair. This opens up a new possibilities as well as improved cost savings for the Swedish company.

In a significant milestone IKEA disclosed, it has installed robots in its Singapore plant which can assemble flat-packed furniture.

As per researchers from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU), sifting through instructions manuals and playing around with screws, nuts and bolts may soon be a thing of the past.

The researchers spent three years programming the robot which can assemble the frame of an IKEA dining chair in just 20 minutes.

It may not be long before robots will be able to fully assemble any piece of IKEA’s furniture, by either verbal instructions, or by looking at an image of the finished item, they said.

“We have achieved the low level capability to teach the robot ‘how to do it’ and then in the next five to 10 years, high level reasoning – the ‘what to do’ – could be done too,” said Quang-Cuong Pham, a researcher who is part of the team.

The researchers at NTU are looking to work with AI experts to try and hone in the process.

“It’s interesting to see an example of how robots could potentially contribute to our vision of creating a better everyday life for many people. We are very positive about embracing new technology,” said Cindy Andersen, global business area manager of kitchen and dining at IKEA.

Incidentally, Singapore has been on the forefront of efforts to introduce automation and robotics in an effort to boost productivity and keep a tight lid on cheap foreign labor.

Already many restaurants and hotels in Singapore, use robots to deliver food to customers and collect used plates and cutlery.


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