by Danny Staple

Check out Rubot II - The Rubik’s Cube Solving Robot.

Rubot II comes from Peter Redmond, who may be familiar as he was also responsible for an old barbecued delicacy, Diotoir! To refresh your memory, Diotoir was a big pink and black spotted furry robot on Robot Wars, which was frequently, and rather inevitably set on fire by either the arena hazards or by Sgt Bash. In fact, this became such a joke that a skewer with vegetables was hung across it so they could be gently grilled as it went up! Diotoir also had big comedy eyes with feminine eyelashes.

Rubot II is a Rubik’s cube solving robot. That in itself is again something we should have seen coming, and I am sure there are a number of those around, including mindstorms ones. However, none might come at it with such style and panache as this one. It not only does the job functionally, but looks good too. It has a VF Doom style mask for a start.

The robot first asks a willing participant to take a cube and mix it up, then place it on a tray. It lifts the cube to eye level, and starts it’s examination. In a brilliant touch, as it starts to work, it starts to play the robots on parade music from the classic film Short Circuit. It solves the Rubik’s cube pretty quickly. In this clip, it then shamelessly plugs and asks the viewer to tell their friends.

The robot has a mouthpiece with a sound responsive display, which reacts to it speaking or playing music like the dashboard of Kitt (KnightRider).

Rubot II was preceded by the Rubot I which is shown in its prototype video. Rubot I has not got any of the cool sculpture aspects of its successor, but it still does the job. It is a little clumsier, but the basic principles appear to be the same, even down to much of the jointing of the arms used.

These may not have the style of Rubot II or even Rubot, but respect is due even for trying!

  • Robot Rubik’s Cube Solver - Unnamed - Take note that the square under the holding tube couldn’t move anyway. This robot is not cheating.
  • University of Michigan - Robot Rubik’s Cube Solver II - What I love about this is that you can clearly see the encoder wheels. It is even cooler that is starts performing multiple turns at once on opposing sides. It notably only rotates one way, although this may be true of the other robots too (possibly less clear than here). Rotating only one way has two advantages, first is that cubes can jam going the other way, which would be pretty bad, and secondly, an algorithm that only deals in one turning directions could be simpler (that is only a “could be” mind).
  • MINDSTORMS Inventions - CubeSolver - A mindstorms based Rubik’s Cube solver using two RCX’s and a Vision Command unit, with a page showing plenty of information for building your own! I cannot help but wander if a single NXT might make for an even more elegant version. Anyone ready to step up to the challenge?

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