Meet the robotic carpenter that could help create your furniture

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created a system of robots to carry out carpentry work and reduce the risk of injury to humans.

The team at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) created the system they call AutoSaw as a way to minimise human interaction with dangerous tasks such as sawing.

Using computer software alongside the team of robots, users are able to choose pre-designed templates for the final product they want to produce, and then edit it to suit their specifications.

Once complete, the small team of robots then cut and shape the various pieces as needed before the user assembles the furniture.

Lead author of a paper on the study and CSAIL postdoctoral researcher Jeffrey Lipton said: “If you’re building a deck, you have to cut large sections of lumber to length, and that’s often done on site.

“Every time you put a hand near a blade, you’re at risk. To avoid that, we’ve largely automated the process using a chop-saw and jigsaw.”

One of the robots used as part of the trial was a Roomba autonomous vacuum cleaner that was fitted with a jigsaw to carry out cutting tasks.

“We added soft grippers to the robots to give them more flexibility, like that of a human carpenter,” Lipton said.

“This meant we could rely on the accuracy of the power tools instead of the rigid-bodied robots.”

The research team now hopes to test AutoSaw with some new skills, such as drilling or gluing, as part of future tests to increase the complexity of the system.


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