The Bulletin

Robots work together to build Ikea furniture

Posting in Technology

MIT researchers have devised a way for two coordinating robots to assemble flat-pack furniture. For starters, they can put together the Lack end table from Ikea. New Scientist reports.

Specifically, IkeaBot is an autonomous, multi-robot coordinated furniture assembly system. The team – led by Ross Knepper of MIT’s Distributed Robotics Lab -- used two KUKA youBots, each with a bright orange arm, wheels, and a platform.

The pair follow a robot-friendly blueprint, which is automatically generated from the software files that describe the flat-pack furniture.

Then they split the task. One brings over the table leg and puts it in position. The other one then screws it in place using a tool on the end of its arm -- a Torq gripper that grasps and spins.

Watch a video of the robots collaborating.

I have three Lack tables right now, and while these were the easiest of my Ikea collection to assemble, the IkeaBot system is only getting started. The team says the next step will be to make the system more generic, and to expand the number of furniture kits the robots can assemble.

The work [pdf] appears in Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation this month.

[Via New Scientist]

Images: IkeaBot from R.A. Knepper et al. & manuals by J. Fang

— By on May 7, 2013, 3:00 PM PST

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure