Users can choose from a range of carpenter-designed templates for chairs, desks, and other furniture. The team says that AutoSaw could eventually be used for projects as large as a deck or a porch.
“If you’re building a deck, you have to cut large sections of lumber to length, and that’s often done on site,” says CSAIL postdoc Jeffrey Lipton, who was a lead author on a related paper about the system. “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.”
The system also offers flexibility for designing furniture to fit space-constrained houses and apartments. For example, it could allow a user to modify a desk to squeeze into an L-shaped living room, or customize a table to fit in a microkitchen.
“Robots have already enabled mass production, but with artificial intelligence (AI) they have the potential to enable mass customization and personalization in almost everything we produce,” says CSAIL director and co-author Daniela Rus. “AutoSaw shows this potential for easy access and customization in carpentry.”
The paper, which will be presented in May at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Brisbane, Australia, was co-written by Lipton, Rus, and PhD student Adriana Schulz. Other co-authors include MIT Professor Wojciech Matusik, PhD student Andrew Spielberg, and undergraduate Luis Trueba.
“There have been many recent AI achievements in virtual environments, like playing Go and composing music,” says Hod Lipson, a professor of mechanical engineering and data science at Columbia University. “Systems that can work in unstructured physical environments, such as this carpentry system, are notoriously difficult to make. This is truly a fascinating step forward.”
While AutoSaw is still a research platform, in the future the team plans to use materials such as wood, and integrate complex tasks such as drilling and gluing.
“Our aim is to democratize furniture-customization,” says Schulz. “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.”
Voir des robots dans les laboratoires, surtout ceux du MIT, n’est pas extraordinaire. Utiliser la robotique dans le cadre du bâtiment et des meubles est également une idée assez largement rependue. Toutefois, l’approche retenue au MIT l’est un peu moins. Elle devrait devenir à terme une fonction de la #Smart City. De fait, qui mieux que la Smart City peut gérer des robots qui doivent aller effectuer une mission chez les uns et les autres ?