Fixing IKEA furniture pieces could be a tedious task at times. Isn’t it? Recently, a robot that can assist you in setting up the pieces of IKEA furniture was introduced by a team of researchers at USC Viterbi School of Engineering in California. Their research was shown at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation on 30 May 2021.

The robotic hand system predicts how humans will put the furniture pieces together and offers you a helping hand by bringing necessary equipment like screws, shelves, parts of furniture, etc.

All was possible with the help of an advanced algorithm where the robot collects all data and information, observes people’s behavior, and delivers the best service. With Artificial Intelligence, the robot can classify people into different categories based on their actions and preferences while executing a task.

For Example:

When assembling a bookshelf, some people may prefer to attach just one side of the shelves to the frame, while others may want to join them all and then move on to the next construction phase. Based on your preferences and working techniques, the Smart Robot records all of these trends and assigns you to a particular category. Based on all of the data the robot gathered, the robot eventually learns to predict what will be your next move.

Robots assisting humans can have a lot of advantages, particularly in factories where humans can supervise and control activities to conduct more complex tasks; simultaneously, machines can handle the more physically demanding work.

Heramb Nemlekar, says that:

“We want to have the human and robot work together – a robot can help you do things faster and better by doing supporting tasks, like fetching things. Humans will still perform the primary actions but can offload simpler secondary actions to the robot.”

Stefanos Nikolaidis, affirms that

“We want the robot to be able to infer what the human wants, based on some prior knowledge.”

Heramb Nemlekar is a Ph.D. student in computer science, and he is supervised by Stefanos Nikolaidis, who is an assistant professor in computer science at USC.

As the USC Viterbi School of Engineering says, this is not the first time a robot is built to assist humans in assembling furniture. Similarly, in 2018, a Singapore-based team developed a robot that could build an IKEA chair without any human assistance.

Currently, the scientists from USC Viterbi, headed by Stefanos Nikolaidis, have been working to refine and enhance the robot’s capacity further.

Stefanos Nikolaidis added that if we will soon have robots everywhere around us it is important for robots to adapt to our choice and preferences. They should be created to be good teammates and collaborators. Also adding more user preference and being able to learn variability is what will make robots more accepted.

Refining the robotic system is a step towards “intuitive” robots, Nikolaidis said. Although collaborative production (humans and robots) is currently the project’s focus, the same insight can be applied to help disabled people with applications such as robotic food preparations.