Robots are ready to move into our homes. Already present in manufacturing, robots are now able to build the furniture.
At Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore, scientists have built a robot that can autonomously assemble an IKEA chair in 20 minutes. Depending on levels of frustration and exasperation, this might be quicker than assembly by a human.
The robot furniture builder consists of a 3D camera, to serve as its eyes, and two robotic arms equipped with grippers. Force sensors on the robot’s arms determine the strength of the grippers and how powerfully to press objects together. The scientists developed algorithms to enable the robot to coordinate the multiple skills needed to assemble the chair.
This was a tough test, requiring the robot to use force control, visual localization and hand-eye coordination, as well as the ability to understand each step of the instructions. The results were impressive.
As a first step, the robot took 3D photos of the parts of the chair to be assembled in order to generate a map of the estimated positions of the different parts. Next, it planned its motion pathways that integrated visual and tactile perception, grasping and execution.
When assembling the chair, the robot needed to be able to grasp the pieces tightly and insert wood plugs into the work pieces. This task proved challenging since the robot needed to regulate the amount of force necessary and required the use of force sensors mounted on its arms.
IEC produces International Standards for many of the technologies that robots incorporate including sensors, batteries, and hardware products.
- IEC TC 2 develops Standards or rotating electrical machines, including the drives and motors used in industrial robots
- IEC TC 17 prepares Standards for switchgear and controlgear;
- IEC SC 21A develops Standards for batteries containing alkaline or other non-acid electrolytes,
- IEC TC 22 develops Standards for power electronic systems and equipment,
- IEC TC 47 develops Standards for the design and use of semiconductor devices, including sensors. Among its subcommittees, IEC SC 47F specifically addresses micro electromechanical systems (MEMS) while IEC SC 47E provides Standards for sensors used in imaging, motion and distance detection.
- IEC TC 91 is responsible for Standards used in electronic assembly technologies including components.
In addition, the Joint Technical Committee of IEC and ISO on information technology (ISO/IEC JTC 1) prepares Standards used for artificial intelligence including the internet of things and cloud computing. In 2017, a new subcommittee on artificial intelligence, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 42, was set up. It held its first meeting in April.
Robots at home?
When George Devol, a founding figure of the modern robotics industry, first developed his robots, they were met with scepticism and distrust. Now they are an integral part of many manufacturing processes.
Already, robots have entered our homes to vacuum, cut grass and clean pools. Furniture assembly should ensue next to spare the psychological angst it has caused in many households.