My research addresses the algorithmic aspects of advanced factory automation, enabling autonomous robots to function safely and comprehensibly alongside humans in environments structured for people. Doing so will open up many products still assembled by hand today to automation opportunities. Leveraging insights from psychology, sociology, and linguistics, robots will interact with factory workers through natural language and gesture, so that they can be programmed without special training and can operate as peers with human workers. Robots must be aware of their environment and responsive to changes within it. In multi-robot deployments, a distributed planning and control approach is vital to enable scalability and provable correctness. I use IKEA furniture to demonstrate techniques in planning, control, perception and human interaction for automated assembly.
Ross A. Knepper is a Research Scientist in the Distributed Robotics Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research focuses on the theory and algorithms of automated assembly. Taking IKEA furniture assembly as a challenge problem, he is exploring motion and task planning, manipulation, custom tooling, coordination, localization, failure handling, and human-robot interaction. Ross received his M.S and Ph.D. degrees in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University in 2007 and 2011. Before his graduate education, Ross worked in industry at Compaq, where he designed high-performance algorithms for scalable multiprocessor systems; and also in commercialization at the National Robotics Engineering Center, where he adapted robotics technologies for customers in government and industry. Ross has served as a volunteer for Interpretation at Death Valley National Park, California.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy hosted an event on Google+ Hangout about robotics. The event featured a panel of five robotics experts, and it included a live demo of part of our IkeaBot system. Watch the video at We the Geeks: Robots.
Some coverage by CNET highlighted the IkeaBot segment of the Hangout.
IEEE Spectrum Magazine visited ICRA 2013 in Karlsruhe, Germany this week, and they stopped by to interview us at the IkeaBot booth.
Our IkeaBot work was recently profiled in the New Scientist online.
Our paper "IkeaBot: An Autonomous Multi-Robot Coordinated Furniture Assembly System" has been nominated for Best Automation Paper at ICRA 2013. The paper describes a multi-robot IKEA furniture assembly system.