The real thing that's frustrating about building IKEA furniture isn't the little screws or the instructions. It's the person who's helping you. They misunderstand directions, hum Rihanna songs and kick the last dowel under the refrigerator by accident. And you can't say anything because they're doing you a favour.
So Italian researchers showed their robot how they wanted it to assist in building an IKEA table. The robot used a force sensor and a vision tracking system to learn the movements a researcher was taking it through, a process called kinesthetic teaching. First the robot assists the IKEA builder in flipping the tabletop over, and then it stiffens while still holding the tabletop so the builder can screw the legs of the table in. If we're being honest, this could save some friendships, but will also facilitate all-hours furniture building. [Vimeo via IEEE Spectrum]