In Depth

Robots assemble Ikea chair in under ten minutes

Loathe building flat-pack furniture? Androids are here to help

The stressful task of assembling flat-pack furniture looks set to become a thing of the past following the unveiling this week of a robot that can do it for you. 

Scientists at Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore, have created an android featuring a 3D camera and “industrial robot arms” with grippers that is capable of assembling furniture without human help, The Guardian reports. 

Tasked with constructing Ikea’s £18 Stefan chair, two robots working together successfully assembled the chair in just nine minutes - faster than it would take most humans, the newspaper says.  

However, the scientists had previous spent around 11 minutes programming the robots to perform the assembly process. 

The team hope that, by integrating more artificial intelligence (AI) into the robots, they will one day be able to teach themselves how to build pieces of furniture by studying the instruction manual, looking at a picture of the finished item, or through verbal commands, the newspaper reports. 

Although robots have been used in car assembly lines for decades, more intricate tasks - such as building Ikea furniture - poses a far great challenge for droids, reports the Daily Mail

While assembly line machines carry out the same task repeatedly, robots have to carry out a series of different movements pick up and fit together furniture parts.

One of the scientists on the programme, Quang-Cuong Pham, told Reuters that the team hopes the robot will be able to assemble furniture such as the Ikea chair without requiring additional programming within the next five to ten years. 

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