At the 2017 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) last week, researchers from ETH Zurich in Switzerland revealed a robotic system capable of stacking and balancing irregularly shaped items. In the researchers’ paper on the robotic arm, they describe how the work could help develop new robotic systems capable of building large structures or assembling complex components in a factory.

The robot uses a camera to scan objects in 3D and a torque sensor to control its precise movements when stacking items. The arm of the robot collects items of various sizes using a three-fingered gripper. As the video shows, stacking doesn’t work 100 percent of the time, usually due to small errors and instabilities as more stones are stacked. The researchers found that untrained humans attempting to stack the same six stones made common errors.

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