Robotics Update: Hire These Robots to Build Your IKEA Furniture

My wife and I have been downsizing and ridding ourselves of over 40 years of furniture collecting as we prepare to move to our new apartment in downtown Toronto. IKEA, the assemble-it-yourself furniture store, has figured largely in our lives in the last few months as we replace the old with some new things that are a better fit for our smaller space.

Well, with tomorrow’s delivery of two night tables, two dressers, six bar chairs, and a 14-foot entertainment centre, all from IKEA and all with some assembly required, I could use some help. So when I read about IkeaBot, an autonomous robot for assembling IKEA furniture my interest peaked.

IkeaBot is an inspiration coming out of MIT’s Distributed Robotics Lab. Working from CAD files, two modified KUKA youBot robots, renamed IkeaBots, use a geometric reasoning engine plus a robotic arm and sets of specialized assembly tools to build ready-to-assemble furniture from IKEA. The robots follow a software blueprint of all of the items in the cardboard covered flat pack that is typically the way IKEA furniture arrives at the loading bay or your home.

In this case the MIT team decided to assemble an IKEA Lack table. The robots split the task. While one positions a table leg over the inverted table top, the other screws and tightens each leg using its robotic arm with a custom gripping tool that applies the right amount of torque.




A table like the one being assembled in this video, is fairly simple. The MIT engineering team sees this as just a first step. They want to introduce the IkeaBots to more complex furniture kits. All I ask is I have them for the weekend to help me because some assembly required gives me conniption fits.

But if you are thinking of getting an IkeaBot for yourself,it will set you back about 24,000 Euros not including the CAD software and specialized robotic arm tools. I think I’ll wait until LEGO releases a Mindstorm kit.

Results can be found in the Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.


IKEAbot assembling table


Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...