Robotics

AutoSaw uses robots to make furniture-building safer

AutoSaw uses robots to make fu...
Adriana Schulz watches as the Kuka Youbots bring a piece of lumber to the chop saw
Adriana Schulz watches as the Kuka Youbots bring a piece of lumber to the chop saw
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Adriana Schulz watches as the Kuka Youbots bring a piece of lumber to the chop saw
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Adriana Schulz watches as the Kuka Youbots bring a piece of lumber to the chop saw

For many people, power saws are scary things, bringing forth mental images of horrible hand injuries. Such saws are an integral part of creating custom wooden furniture, however. Now, scientists at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed an experimental system called AutoSaw, that uses robots to handle the sawing.

Users start by getting on a computer and utilizing the existing OnShape CAD system, to access a professionally-designed basic template of the type of item that they wish to build. They can tweak that template as they wish, accounting for factors such as size or aesthetics. Once the design is finalized, the program generates a list of all the wooden pieces that will need to be cut. That list is then transmitted to the robots.

Guided by a motion-tracking system, two small mobile Kuka Youbots equipped with grippers pick up the pieces of uncut lumber and carry them over to a chop saw. They then guide the pieces through the saw, which cuts them to the required lengths. Additionally, a Roomba that has been equipped with a jigsaw moves across the surface of wooden boards, cutting out any flat pieces that are needed.

After all the parts have been cut, the computer guides the user through the process of assembling them to create the finished product.

So far, AutoSaw has been used to build a table, with simulations showing that it could additionally be used for a chair, shed, and deck. Down the road, it may also use robots to perform tasks such as drilling and gluing.

"Our aim is to democratize furniture-customization," says team member Adriana Schulz, a PhD student. "We're trying to open up a realm of opportunities so users aren't bound to what they've bought at Ikea. Instead, they can make what best fits their needs."

AutoSaw can be seen in action, in the following video.

Source: MIT

AutoSaw: Robot Assisted Carpentry

4 comments
ErstO
Great, robots are not only coming after our jobs, now they want our hobbies :-(
Nik
If any persons abilities cannot cope with the use of a chopsaw without injuring themselves, then they are probably better off staying with Ikea. If that table is a prime example of the design and build capabilities of the system, I dont have to worry about being obsolete.
zr2s10
Yes, because buying a complex robotic system will be cheaper than buying the furniture.... And if you can't run a saw, you probably can't handle anything else, so let's make a robotic screw driver, and a robotic painter. $30k later, you too can make your own chair! I feel like this really doesn't democratize furniture creation. And it's almost as lazy as the autonomous car... I tried to be optimistic about this article, but just.... No, not going to happen. Bad idea.
LordInsidious
Love seeing things like this as it give more people options as it pushes the robotic future forward. Businesses could apply this idea to service areas as an individuals buying this would be impractical. A lot of people could be spared the same boring 'Ikea' like furniture with their own specific furniture at a fraction of the custom costs.