The “contest” to solve Rubik’s Cube the fastest is a perpetual one. Both humans and machines are continually coming up with strategies and techniques to solve this puzzle in the least number of moves and shortest period of time. Recently, we were wow-ed by teenager Feliks Zemdegs when he set a new world record for solving a 3x3x3 cube in a mere 6.24 seconds. No one can say that this feat may not be broken in the future, but for now, it is something that we can only marvel at.
Now that’s the humans’ record. In case you didn’t know, robots are also at it – solving Rubik’s Cube, that is. Of course, it can be argued that at the end of the day, the accolades still fall on human heads as they are the ones that make these robots.
A group of students who were on the Mechatronic Engineering/Computer Science degree program at the Swinburne University of Technology had a brilliant final project last year. It was brilliant then, and it is brilliant now – never mind that the press just got wind of their creation.
Named Ruby, the robot solves the Cube by scanning the faces in order to recognize its status before setting to solve the puzzle. Ruby has made it to the charts – she is the fastest Rubik’s Cube-solving robot at 10.69 seconds. Impressive, but I have to give Zemdegs this one.
This is a quick rundown on how Ruby does her thing, straight from one of the students who created her: ((Source: dakiller))
The basic rundown of operation is that there are 2 systems, the PC software and the embedded microcontroller hooked together via a USB serial link. The camera connected to the PC scans in the cube and detects the colours and determines the cube in the computer, then runs through a tree search algorithm (our own implementation of Kociemba’s Algorithm) that finds a list of moves that will solve the cube. That is then fed to the microcontroller which has some big DC servo controlled motors and solenoids that manipulate the robot grippers, to the physical solving of the cube.
And here are some behind the scenes videos from the guys themselves.