Scientists built a bot that builds Ikea chairs

It takes away the pain -- and satisfaction -- of assembling Ikea furniture on your own.

Zoey Chong Reporter
Zoey is CNET's Asia News Reporter based in Singapore. She prefers variety to monotony and owns an Android mobile device, a Windows PC and Apple's MacBook Pro all at the same time. Outside of the office, she can be found binging on Korean variety shows, if not chilling out with a book at a café recommended by a friend.
Zoey Chong
2 min read

Singapore scientists have created a bot that can build you an Ikea chair, though it takes longer than if you were to complete the task on your own.

NTU Singapore

If you find yourself shedding blood, sweat, tears and missing screws every time you try to build Ikea furniture, here's some good news: There's now a robot that can do the hard work for you.

A team of scientists at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University have built a robot that can assemble a $25 chair from Ikea, according to a statement by the university today. It takes the bot about 20 minutes to complete one.

While it takes the bot longer than humans usually take to assemble the chair -- an Ikea spokesperson said it takes about 10 minutes to complete one -- it's nevertheless another step forward in the field of robotics. Especially when you consider the robot that ended up in a public fountain when it was supposed to police the Washington Harbor complex, or another that tripped and fell over a light projector during a demo onstage.

NTU's robot, which took three years to build, consists of two arms and a 3D camera that lets it read the furniture parts presented to it. Then it designs and executes a plan to assemble the furniture using algorithms developed by the NTU team.

To ensure the robot doesn't use too much force when holding onto something and pushing them together, its arms are equipped with force sensors. More time is taken for the robot to plan than to execute the assembly process.

The bot isn't smart enough to build what you want it to just based on what you tell it yet, though that could change in the next decade. The NTU team is looking to integrate more artificial intelligence so that you may get the robot to put a piece of furniture together simply by telling it what to do or showing it an image of a finished item.

"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," team member Quang-Cuong Pham told Reuters.

Watch this: Robots that poop - and other tech magic of Toy Fair 2018

Cambridge Analytica: Everything you need to know about Facebook's data mining scandal.

Tech Enabled: CNET chronicles tech's role in providing new kinds of accessibility.