IKEA is working on robotic furniture for small apartments


IKEA wants to “empower people to have big dreams for small homes.” To do so, it’s creating a line of robotic furniture. Today, the company announced that it’s partnering with Ori, an American startup that develops robotic furniture meant to address the challenges of small apartment living. IKEA and Ori will introduce their new line, dubbed ROGNAN, in 2020.

While the term “robotic furniture” might conjure up sci-fi images, it will likely look more like IKEA furniture on wheels. A rendering shows what appears to be a giant wardrobe with a couch on one side and a bed on the other. With a push of a button, the bed slides under the unit and opens up floorspace.

The whole unit slides back and forth on tracks, and along with plenty of storage, there’s a retractable desk. In IKEA’s vision, you could fit most of the essentials — a bed, couch, desk and storage — in roughly 10 square meters, or a little less than 115 square feet.

As more people flock to urban areas — an estimated 1.5 million people every week — IKEA and Ori see this as a way to make better use of limited real estate. “Urban space is too valuable and scarce to be static and unresponsive,” Ori says on its website. You’ll have to wait until next year to purchase any of the robotic furniture, but IKEA promises it will provide more information this summer.

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