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## When Lego Meet Rubik144

Credit goes to memepool for bringing you word of Lego robot that solves Rubik's Cubes. This is one of the most jaw-dropping things I've ever seen. Dedication is defined as rebuilding "left and right grabbers six times (and the bottom grabber four times) trying elastic bands, Technic shocks, and pneumatics" in order to grasp that little cube.
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## When Lego Meet Rubik

• #### IBM .. (Score:2, Funny)

... already solved this one with Deep Rubik.
• #### Re:IBM .. (Score:1)

Or is that Deep Blue-Red-White-Orange-Yellow-Green?
• #### damn (Score:2, Funny)

I can't even solve one of those :)
• #### Re:damn (Score:1)

There's always a trick to solving these sorts of puzzles. Check this one [upenn.edu] out - it might help.

• #### It is very simple. (Score:2, Funny)

Use six cans of spray paint.

• #### Re:It is very simple. (Score:2, Redundant)

Use six cans of spray paint.
...or pop it apart and put it back together in the right order.

I don't believe in a no-win scenario.

- James T. Kirk
• #### That's the hard way of solving the RB (Score:4, Funny)

on Friday September 07, 2001 @11:05AM (#2263447)
This Lego machine is great, but it's an overkill : anybody who has played with a Rubik's Cube knows the best way to solve it is to peel off all the colored stickers and glue them back on in the right order.
• #### Re:That's the hard way of solving the RB (Score:1)

I always preferred to disassemble the blocks the stickers are on from each other and rebuild it to get the solution.
• #### Re:That's the hard way of solving the RB (Score:1)

heh, yes that works too :-)
• #### Re:That's the hard way of solving the RB (Score:4, Funny)

on Friday September 07, 2001 @11:18AM (#2263521)
I always liked disassembling the blocks and putting them back in such a way that the cube could not be solved at all, then leaving it for someone to try and solve.
• #### evil (Score:1)

well it is
Really! [I've been lameness filteres]
• #### Re:That's the hard way of solving the RB (Score:3, Informative)

Given the time energy and persistence most people will put into the cube, this is no different than the real cube.

Anyone remember the old "RATE YOUR MIND PLA"? One of the first time the "15" sliding puzzle was brought to the public's attention (15 tiles on a 4x4 grid, slide around to make a certain pattern) by Sam Lloyd, it was impossible to solve, and the best you could do was spell out "RATE YOUR MIND PLA" instead of "RATE YOUR MIND PAL" (though according to this page [org2.com], it might be able to work if you can interchange the two R tiles...)

Buy yeah, disassembling the blocks gave better results than swapping the stickers. Hofstadter (in Metamagical Themas) points out how damn clever the internal mechanism is, so taking it apart is a bit educational to boot.
• #### Re:That's the hard way of solving the RB (Score:4, Interesting)

on Friday September 07, 2001 @01:17PM (#2263856) Homepage

Given the time energy and persistence most people will put into the cube, this is no different than the real cube.

Actually it's almost more clever than solving the cube itself. I know several people (including myself) who can solve a Rubik's Cube, but all of them (including myself) learned how to solve it by reading the solution out of a book, or off the web. But since this was something new, it took real ingenuity to figure it out.

Hofstadter (in Metamagical Themas) points out how damn clever the internal mechanism is

You should see the 4x4x4 and 5x5x5 cubes. The 5x5 has a similar mechanism to the 3x3 because it has a central square on each side. But it has to hold in more edge pieces and eight middle pieces surrounding the center square.

The 4x4x4 is a totally different mechanism, since it has no middle square. It's core is a ball with grooves in it, and all the pieces can slide around on it. (Note: Don't try to picture it based on my description. You'd have to open one up to really find out.)

And in response to your parent post, trying to solve a cube that's put together wrong takes about as much time to figure out as it does to solve it. Once you're putting the final pieces in place you notice that one piece is rotated in a way it shouldn't be. Then you know immediately it's impossible.

Komi

• #### Re:That's the hard way of solving the RB (Score:1)

That wouldn't work - Anyone who is skilled at solving a cube will realize that it's unsolvable (aka someone screwed with it) once they get near completion.

And, of course, anyone who is unskilled at solving a cube would never get close to completion in the first place -- so there is no point is taking it apart and flipping a block.
• #### Re:That's the hard way of solving the RB (Score:1)

Didn't somebody produce a 'cube knockoff with all the same colored stickers - so it was always "solved"?

If not - dibs on the idea!
• #### Re:That's the hard way of solving the RB (Score:1)

when they used to be plastic, with the colours printed right now the plastic my mom would pry them off with a butter knife and reaattach them to the "collective" in the right sequence. Great moral lesson there...watching my mom cheat at a childs game when I was four, and fuckign with knives while doing it.
• #### Re:That's the hard way of solving the RB (Score:1)

Well, as long as it wasn't right after she shot up some heroin.
• #### Re:That's the hard way of solving the RB (Score:1)

That would probably be hard to implement with Lego pieces, though.

I think it would be easier to repaint the cube than to try to peel off the stickers. (It would be even easier if we relax the restriction that the sides have to be six different colors.)
• #### Re:That's the hard way of solving the RB (Score:1, Troll)

Franky, this post and posts like this disgust me. This is *SLASHDOT* for god sakes; the haven of all geeks, dorks, and nerds. I would have assumed that at least 75% of us know how to solve a Rubik's cube! Why all these clearly nongeeky posts talking about taking apart the cube and putting it back together in order, or peeling off the stickers and putting them on correctly? We should be complaining about how inefficent his program at solving the cube is (40 moves? Please!!) and bragging about how fast and frequently we each individually can solve a cube.

I, for instance, did my rubik's cube three times in the two minutes it took me to write this post. Without looking. Beat that.
• #### Re:That's the hard way of solving the RB (Score:3, Funny)

I, for instance, did my rubik's cube three times in the two minutes it took me to write this post. Without looking. Beat that.

I've had sex. With a girl.
• #### Re:That's the hard way of solving the RB (Score:5, Funny)

on Friday September 07, 2001 @03:54PM (#2264773)
I, for instance, did my rubik's cube three times in the two minutes it took me to write this post. Without looking. Beat that.

I've had sex. With a girl.

In the two minutes it took him to write that post? Definitely slashdot material.

-Puk
• #### Re:That's the hard way of capping your karma (Score:1)

I am proud to have capped my karma on that post.

Especially since it was a post donated by my friend the AC. :)

-Puk
• #### Riddle for you (Score:2)

What goes: click, click, click - "did I get it?" click, click, click - "did I get it?"

Stevie Wonder trying to solve a cube.
• #### Have you tried it? (Score:2)

A lot of people say that to me, but I've never seen it, and I doubt it can actually be done well. The stickers don't reattach too good.

Even if it works it is much slower than the 20-30 seconds a good speed cuber need to solve it the regular way. The same goes for the more practical "trick" of taking the pieces apart.
• #### And of course... (Score:3, Funny)

on Friday September 07, 2001 @11:06AM (#2263448) Homepage Journal
When it was assigned to interpret the 2001 tax code it was the first robot to disassemble itself as an act of suicide.
• #### And don't forget the lubricant (Score:2, Interesting)

Silicone spray helps those cubes go round and round. Check out the winner of the Swedish world championship and his speed cubing site [netgate.net] complete with java 3d cube solution applets!
• #### Re:And don't forget the lubricant (Score:1)

From that site:

I won with 40.43 sec...

That is one of the sickest, most impressive things I have ever heard.
• #### Re:And don't forget the lubricant (Score:2)

I saw a TV show about 10 years ago where a bunch of Chinese guys were doing them in about 25 secs each; they had a lineup of fifteen or twenty on a table and he got through it in five minutes.
• #### Re:And don't forget the lubricant (Score:4, Informative)

on Friday September 07, 2001 @05:22PM (#2265222) Homepage
Thanx for posting my site! I feel honorbound to point out that I'm the Swedish champion, but only came 4th in the world championships. Many people seem to make a shortcut and claim I'm the world champion...

Also, I've moved my site but not redirected the old one (I really should get that done...), so an updated version of that page with some speed quicktime videos is available here: http://lar5.com/cube/speed.html [lar5.com]

BTW, some people (most of whom were hardly born at the time of the first championship) are working on putting together the second World Championships next year. More info on http://www.speedcubing.com [speedcubing.com]. These kids are really fast, so I don't expect to win, but I'll definitely be there.
• #### Velly Interestink (Score:1)

Actually, this is really cool. A lego based robot that can manipulate a 3D object and possibly stump most mathematic and chaos theorists? Wild.

BTW, FP.

notcarlos out.

• #### Link is wrong (Score:1)

ARGH!!!

MEMEPOOL.COM, NOT .ORG!

• #### Finally (Score:4, Funny)

<Guardian.Bob+Slashdot@gmail.com> on Friday September 07, 2001 @11:09AM (#2263467) Homepage Journal
Some source code to solve my cube! I've been working on it (off an on) for years. It's really a problem when I get 5 sides and someone comes in and trys to solve the last side for me.
• #### Re:Finally (Score:1)

It is impossible to get 5 sides right, and NOT have the 6th right, too. After all, if the first 5 are all right, what color is left to mess up the bottom?
• #### Re:Finally (Score:1)

It's really a problem when I get 5 sides

That's impressive, can you teach me how to solve 5 sides of a six-sided cube?

• #### Lego's SQL Server... (Score:1)

Has just been slashdotted

• #### ....And.. (Score:2)

There's a fairly simple algorithm to solve a rubiks cube, so the cool tech here is presumably in the colour recongnition and manipulation side.

Unfortunately the site seems /.ed already, despite the lack of even fp comments as I write this.

• #### Re:....And.. (Score:3, Informative)

I got a chance to skim the article b4 the slashbanging occurred.

Yes, as stated in the article, the major obstacle was apparently the image recognition, as the creator of this marvelous work had to optimize some Logitech code used for the optical probe he was using (can't remember it's name). He also stated that because it was pretty error prone, he had to throw in code to allow the user to tweak the color values and/or confirm the colors that the probe picked up. He did use an already developed algorithm and code that he found online for solving the cube.

He also had to lube up the Rubik's cube so that the Lego's could manipulate it easily enough. Still, I find this kind of dedication to robotics and simple plastic bricks quite astounding! With this guys' skills, maybe he should build a Battlebot to manipulate the hell out of Son of Wayachi...

• #### Re:....And.. (Score:4, Informative)

on Friday September 07, 2001 @11:43AM (#2263665) Homepage Journal
Here's the text, modified to get past the lameness filter. The robot itself is squat and well built, it envelopes the cube, except for the top and front, the grippers have a sturdy look to them.

CubeSolver_1b

- PREAMBLE -

This robot solves a 3x3x3 Rubik's Cube.*

I started to think about this problem about seven months ago. Then fellow Mindstormer AGIECCO announced his intention to work on a robotic solution and, simultaneously, I saw that Rubik's Cubes were on sale at www.target.com. So I bought a couple of cubes and started getting down to business...

I produced a "late beta" version in mid-April 2001 that was a little clunky. The final version -presented here is smooth and reliable. The good news is that LEGO liked it so much they asked me to make some copies for them, so there's a decent chance that you'll be able to see one on a Mindstorms road show in the coming year.

- MECHANICAL DETAILS -

Two RCXs are used to manipulate the cube and implement the solution. The solution is generated by scanning each face of the cube in turn with the video camera from Vision Command, calculating a solution onboard a PC, and then downloading the move sequence for the solution to an array in the top RCX.

TOP RCX -master RCX controls the side grabbers which can rotate 90, either independently or simultaneously...

- OUT_A rotates the green grabber -one motor.
- OUT_B opens/closes the yellow and green grabbers simultaneously -two motors: one for each grabber.
- OUT_C rotates the yellow grabber -one motor.

- IN_1 two touch sensors, one at each end of the 90 limit of the green grabber's turn -arms UP-DOWN or arms FRONT-BACK.
- IN_2 two touch sensors, one on the green grabber and one on the yellow grabber, detect when the grabbers are open.
- IN_3 two touch sensors, one at each end of the 90 limit of the yellow grabber's turn -arms UP-DOWN or arms FRONT-BACK.

BOTTOM RCX -slaved to top RCX via IR messages controls the bottom grabber which can rotate back-and-forth 90. Two touch sensors report when the bottom turntable has reached its limit of travel -arms perpendicular to the LR grabbers, or arms parallel to the LR grabbers.

- OUT_A opens/closes the BOTTOM grabber -one motor.
- OUT_B rotates the BOTTOM grabber -one motor.
- OUT_C -
- IN_1 Touch sensor -arms perpendicular to LR grabbers.
- IN_2 Touch sensor -arms parallel to LR grabbers.
- IN_3 Rotation sensor, tracks the open/close state of the bottom grab.

To achieve a cube solution, you must be able to rotate the whole cube by 90 in two orthogonal axes, *and* be able to turn a face by 90 relative
to the rest of the cube.

I opted to use the left and right grabbers to turn the faces; the yellow grabber can rotate the left face by an 90; the green grabber can rotate the
right face by 90; or they can both turn simultaneously while the bottom grab is open to rotate the whole cube through 90.

The bottom gabber holds the center 'slice' of the cube when the left or right grabber is turning a single face, and also provides a 90 turn for
rotating the whole cube.

The tricky part is to bring the correct face into a position where the left or right grabber can grip it. For instance, to turn the UP face -white face of the
photo shown here, the sequence is as follows:

- The side grabbers engage, the bottom grabber releases, and the side grabbers rotate the whole cube 90 so that what was the UP face is now
facing the LEGO Cam.

- The bottom grabber re-engages, the side grabbers open, and the BOTTOM grabber turns 90 anticlockwise; what was initially the UP face is now
facing the yellow grabber -and what was the DOWN face is now facing the green grabber.

- Unfortunately, the fingers of the BOTTOM grabber are now in the way, so we rotate the side grabbers back 90 and re-engage them to hold the
cube and then open the BOTTOM grabber.

- The cube is now securely held by the side grabbers, with the BOTTOM grab open, so we turn the bottom grabber back 90 clockwise and re-engage it. Now we are all set to turn the face which was facing UP at the start of the operation...

If you find this all a little hard to visualize, there are some additional photos at

http://albums.photopoint.com/j/AlbumIndex?u=1273 48 3&a=13576975

- PROBLEMS SOLVED -

1. The cube faces are generally too stiff for LEGO elements to turn.

This problem was solved by a tip I found on Lars Petrus's Speed Cubing page -http://ng.netgate.net/~mette/lars/cubedude/speed. html - lubricate the
cube with silicone spray lubricant. I got an aerosol can of LubriMatic Heavy Duty Silicone Lubricant from my local ACE hardware store. The can comes
with a long, thin red tube to direct the spray. Using the tube, I directed a brief squirt of lubricant into the cube at each of the four corners of the center 'cubelet' of each face -I recommend doing this on newspaper - it's a fairly messy job. After wiping off the excess spray, the result is a fairly slick cube.

However, I found that the cubes were still a little sticky owing to the springs inside the cubes being stiff, so I pushed some wedges in between the facelets and left them over night to force the springs inside the cube to loosen up. After this treatment the cubes handled very well.

2. Getting enough torque

Even with a treated cube, getting enough torque to turn the cube faces was going to be a problem. I remembered the system that Jin Sato used on
the thigh joints of MIBO - worm gear to the outer 56t ring of the large Technic turntable. This gives torque to spare for turning the faces of a treated
cube.

3. LEGO grabbers don't grip strongly enough

My early attempts at building a cube solver were all stymied by grips that slipped. The worm-56t gave enough torque to turn, but the fingers couldn't
hang on and the grip was simply pried apart as the grabber rotated around the stationary cube face. I thought about changing the device's name to
"ButterFingers".

I rebuilt the left and right grabbers six times -and the bottom grabber four times trying elastic bands, Technic shocks, and pneumatics, before I came
up with an adequate grip mechanism. In the present version, an axle runs from a motor through the center of the large Technic turntable to a worm
screw. The worm screw turns two 24t gears mounted inside the body of the grabber, one each side of the worm. Each end of the 24t axles terminates
with an 8t gear outside the body of the grabber, and these 8ts engage with 24t-s on either end of the axle which drives a grabber arm. This system can
be strained quite tight without risk of gear slippage, and also allows the large turntables to rotate 180 without any significant loss of grip.

For the bottom grabber I had to use a slightly different arrangement -same gear combinations because the fingers of the green and yellow grabs
kept catching on the external 24ts of the bottom grab. Eventually I managed to work out how to mount all the gears internally in the 4-stud width of
large Technic turntable.

The result of using all these worm drives -rotating, and opening/closing the grabbers is to give a slow, deliberate feel to the movements which I now
quite like: instead of snapping from one position to another like a karate expert the movement is more like t'ai ch'i master - full of controlled energy.

4. Precision of movement.

As I mentioned before - the grabbers were rebuilt more than once. Part of the problem was getting a strong enough grip; the other part was getting the
'fingers' of the grabbers out of the way of each other when the whole cube was being rotated -you'll notice that the left and right grabbers hold the cube
near the edge to keep the fingers short. Having solved these problems, there was still the problem of 'slop' or 'gear lash' in the left and right drive trains.
Most of this was absorbed by putting the rotation sensors on the worm drive axles. However, the worm screws are a *tiny* bit too short to fit snugly -
they travel a little when the motor direction is reversed. To cure this I tried a suggestion from John Barnes -http://news.lugnet.com/robotics/?n=14854
and cut thin shims out of the plastic insert tray from inside a LEGO box. Two shims on each drive axle fixed the worm gear nicely in position so that the
gear lash -although still just detectable was *nearly* within the tolerance of the cube for repeated turning.

The final problem is making sure that the faces of the cube are kept in orthogonal alignment. A standard Rubik's Cube has side dimensions *just* larger
than 7 LEGO studs. Fortunately there is enough flex in the joints of LEGO Technic to absorb the tiny additional dimension. Each grabber arm is fitted
with reverse slopes that force the cube into the correct orthogonal alignment as the grabbers close. However, the rotation sensors for the LEFT
and RIGHT grabbers occasionally lost track of their position and had to be manually tweaked during a solution. There was a also a problem that the
rotation sensors were on the same axle as the worm screw turning the turntable. When the cube was a little stiff, even if the worm screw had performed the correct number of rotations to turn the cube face 90, the LEGO pieces of the grabber had enough flex that the grabber was slightly twisted and the face did not make it all the way around to the 90 point. Therefore I scrapped the rotation sensors and put two touch sensors at the limits of the quarter turn of the turntable -similar to the bottom grabber. I built a "toucher" attached to the rotating part of the large turntable, and this seemed to compensate better for the twisting of the other LEGO elements of the grabber during stiff turns.

The disadvantage of the touch sensor approach, of course, is that the grabbers can no longer make a full 180 turn, so there is more time taken repositioning the side grabbers. The robot averages one face rotation every 30 seconds.

5. Inputting the initial -unsolved state of the cube.

The longest part of the this project involved writing the color recognition software. I downloaded the Logitech Quick Cam SDK from the Logitech site -the Vision Cam is a repackaged Logitech Quick Cam and used VB5 to write a fairly decent program -good enough to distribute if anyone wants a copy. The color recognition is reasonably robust -about one error every two cubes so I incorporated a feature that requires you to confirm that each face has been correctly scanned -and, optionally, allows you to correct the input manually before it scans the next face. The software requires calibration with a solved cube under the particular lighting conditions, and it is quite finicky about changes in lighting conditions. I also left in the earlier manual input option so that you can get a solved cube for calibration, or in case anyone who doesn't have a Vision Cam wants to try this.

Briefly, the software sends a message to the top RCX asking it to present one face of the cube to the video camera. The computer captures a frame from the video camera, and scans a 50x50 pixel area of each color patch to find the median red, green and blue -RGB color values for each color patch on the face. The RGB values are converted to D55 compensated CIE L*a*b* coordinates, and then the CIE values are trigonometrically compared to the calibration values to find the closest match. The computer then asks the robot to show it the next face, and the process is repeated until all the faces have been scanned.

6. General solution to the Rubik's cube.

There are any many general solutions to the 3^3 Rubik's Cube on the internet -http://www.rubikscube.com/cubesolutionother.html. However, most of these produce a sequence of moves involving 50 or 60 face rotations. Given that my bot moves quite slowly, I wanted a relatively short sequence of moves. Fortunately, I found some C source code by Michael Reid on the internet -ftp://ftp.cdrom.com/.2/sac/educult/miker.zip which implements Herbert Kociemba's solution method: it provides short solutions - 40 face rotations quite quickly. I ported this code to Microsoft Visual C++ and recompiled it as an OCX for use in Visual Basic. I must say that Mike did a pretty decent job with his code - move sequences are usually less than 30 moves.

NOTE: The NQC source code files for the two RCXs is are too large to upload to the invention slot here in Mindstorms - apparently there's a 15k limit, while the code for RCX1 alone is 19k. Anyone who wants the NQC source can e-mail me -envcons at ameritech dot net.

-
* Rubik and Rubik's Cube are Registered Trademarks of Seven Towns Limited.

• #### Gees (Score:1)

This is the greatest thing ever... how could this ever be beaten? I feel so inadequate now.
• #### 'meet' rubik? (Score:2)

Shouldn't that be 'meets' rubik? I'd have something insightful to say, but it's already /.'d. You'd think those folks over at lego.com would know better. Their site is usually stressed as it is, and it should be aware that /.'ers love their LEGO bricks! Anyway, when the server cools down I think I'll have a look. Do they have the plans posted to build one? Source code?
• #### Re:'meet' rubik? (Score:2, Informative)

"Lego" is considered to be the plural by the company. That is, you "play with Lego", not "play with Legos". The singular form is "Lego brick".

This has been another Useless fact.

• #### Maybe we shoud make ... (Score:1)

MAN this is cool ..
wait .. i'm having a vision ..
a saturday morning cartoon, we could have a big floating arm with a smiling face on it, solve a big floating rubic-cube (also with a face on it), every time an evil villian drops it and messes up the colours. !!
its a marketing coup* !!!

* all sarcasm is strictly intended.

really though .. this is pretty damn neat.
• #### Mindstorms (Score:2, Informative)

Very cool. Ever notice how it's getting farther and farther apart when REAL cool stuff happens? I remember just a little while ago when "things" happened all the time. :)

It would be very interested to see a mindstorms project that can open a combination lock (or a bank vault! LOL)

Great work on the cube. I can't imagine the time that one took. Like I said before...

very cool.
• #### Mechanical 'Simplex Lock' manipulator? (Score:2)

I recall a story about a MIT grad student who constructed a wind-up mechanical "spider" that was capable of manipulating a Simplex lock.

This isn't as difficult as it sounds, trying all 1081 possible combinations takes about 10 minutes when done by hand.

• #### Re:Mindstorms (Score:1)

Do you mean something similar to this? [carleton.ca]

Not exactly with Mindstorms, but the idea is the same, and with manipulators similar to the ones used to solve the rubik's cube I see no real problems.

• #### Re:Mindstorms (Score:1)

How about a Lego device that violates the DMRC?
• #### Slashdotted already! (Score:2, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward

Microsoft OLE DB Provider for ODBC Drivers error '80040e14'

[Microsoft][ODBC SQL Server Driver][SQL Server]Line 1: Incorrect syntax near ''.

/inventions/invention.asp, line 64

Proof that Microsoft software can't withstand the power of the Slashdot Effect.

Proof that Microsoft software can't withstand the power of the Slashdot Effect.

But remember yesterday? DOJ announces that it's no longer pursuing a Microsoft breakup, and Slashdot breaks at about the same time. Now that's a headline:

MICROSOFT SLASHDOTS SLASHDOT

>Proof that Microsoft software can't withstand
>the power of the Slashdot Effect.

Then again, given the problems with slashdot two mornings in a row now, it seems slashdot can't withstand the power of the slashdot effect...

-l
(boy, this is gonna hurt my karma...)

hrm, but if you go to the site and just click the link it works (I think this is probably not intentional, but it effectivly stops deep links)

lego.mindstorms.com/inventions [lego.com] and then under 'Special Mention' click the cubesolver link. Worked fine for me just now.

• #### How about a Lego PDA? (Score:2, Interesting)

Most of the astonishment comes from the Lego-bot's ability to physically manipulate the cube. However (sniff), the thinking is done on a PC. Can you imagine how Charles Babbage would have approached the problem? (Babbage's 19th Century Analytical Engine [fourmilab.ch] was a fully mechanical computer based on brass, not silicon.) He probably would figure out how to encode the lookup table and operators in plastic, not silicon.

OK, I'm just jealous 'cuz my Lego mass spectrum analyzer isn't working yet. :-)

• #### Completely awesome (Score:1)

I'm not sure i ever solved one of those, myself. Too bad this Mindstorms stuff iwas too expensive for me. I guess I just have to start saving... I got so inspired now.
• #### I almost did this for ACM. (Score:1)

Not using legos, just building a robotic arm, and then writing the code to control the arm, and solve the cube.

My partner said he thought the idea was stupid, and finally convinced me that building a router would be cooler. Well, to this day, I wish we would have built the Rubik Cube arm instead.

• #### Cool, but... (Score:2)

...I would love to see a Mindstorms bot that works by sight as opposed to working out the equations. If you look at the parts used list, you'll see that neither the camera nor the light sensor were used, he used the general solutions found on the web.

Again, spiffy, but I think it would be cooler to have one figure out how to solve it by sight (which this, I admit, is the first step in).

• #### Nevermind (Score:1)

Nevermind...upon closer reading I see he used the camera. But, in the end, the bot still isn't deciding how to solve it, it's just implementing a general solution.
• #### See? I'm not a nerd. (Score:4, Funny)

on Friday September 07, 2001 @11:32AM (#2263603) Journal
I can solve a cube...have been able to since I was like 8. Now I know I'm not a nerd.

No.

A Nerd will build a Lego robot to solve the cube for him.

/me reconsiders visiting /. again, as he now knows he's not a nerd.

:)
• #### LEGO Mindstorm Professional, v8.2 (Score:5, Funny)

on Friday September 07, 2001 @11:32AM (#2263605)
September 7, 2006: Billig, Denmark, (AP) - LEGO announced today version 8.2 of the popular Mindstorms robotic kit, targeted for the home consumer. Previous versions sold to industry have had great success in automatic pencil sharpening robots, latte-fetching robots, and the now popular PDA-linked Mindstorm with vision sensors that can manuver underneath desks (link to: Corporate Workers Protest Upskirt Robots).

This version of the Mindstorms robotic kit comes with grapple features including metric socket wrenches, screwdriver, and air-hammer attachments. LEGO hopes that these new features and applications for home repair use can continue to spur the market need for these "little home helpers," as the New York Daily News called them.

"Who knew," said Margaret Whipple, mother of three and currently a stay-at-home, neighborhood, home owners association attorney, "that when I bought my initial Mindstorms kit to walk the dog, that I could now have a second kit to rotate the tires on my car!"

LEGO sees the home repair market as enormous, according to Lars Ulford, managing director of LEGO's newly formed Mindstorms For The Home division. "You will be able to download home repair programs over your wireless PDA, and uplink them to your home robots. These little buggers can then fix your faucets, rewire the electrical panel, and change lightbulbs. All this frees the consumer from those dreary, everyday household tasks."

In a related story, LEGO denies the rumors that they have developed a semi-sentient Mindstorms "dog" that attacked the CEO on a walking tour last week. "It was just a minor electrical short," says LEGO technician Hans Trachet.
• #### Now let's mess with its mind!! (Score:3, Funny)

on Friday September 07, 2001 @11:33AM (#2263607)
Okay let's take the stickers off and put all of the same color on the center faces of each side. Then let's see how smart this robot is!

A human would either throw the cube out the window or just move the stickers back.

I wonder how Deep Blue would handle it if you pointed behind it and said, "Omigod, it's ENIAC". While its terminal is turned, you flip the board... I hope I can name that defensive move after myself.
• #### RCX does *not* solve it! (Score:1)

All the Lego machine does is manipulate the cube according to instructions from a PC which works out the actual solution. From the article:

Two RCXs are used to manipulate the cube and implement the solution. The solution is generated by scanning each face of the cube in turn with the video camera from Vision Command, calculating a solution onboard a PC, and then downloading the move sequence for the solution to an array in the top RCX.

Sorta like a trained monkey following instructions from a human.
• #### Re:RCX does *not* solve it! (Score:2)

Do you have funn being a killjoy? You're like the guy who yells out to a crowd exactly what a stage magician is doing.

Just sit back and enjoy the show, dude.
• #### Killjoy (Score:1)

I can only imagine how you'll react to the news that there is no Santa Claus.
• #### Re:RCX does *not* solve it! (Score:1)

Isn't that the way that all robots work? A computer program providing instructions. Granted, some robots have the program internalized, but is that really all that important? I think that this is a very cool creation.
• #### Re:RCX does *not* solve it! (Score:1)

I don't disagree, I think it's an incredible accomplishment... it's just that the headline is misleading. The RCX is a computer, it's hooked to sensors and motors that do the manipulation, but it's marching orders come from an entirely separate PC.
• #### Rubik links (Score:5, Informative)

on Friday September 07, 2001 @11:41AM (#2263658) Homepage Journal
First, a Yahoo club [yahoo.com] to discuss the fastest algorithm to solve the cube.

Second, a best fast algorithm for solving the cube with downloadable source code [sunyit.edu]

And last, a Description of how a 4d rubik hypercube would function [superliminal.com] along with a solver program for the hypercube.

• #### Only the robot is Lego... (Score:2)

Although this is a very impressive robot (dealing with anything non-Lego with Legos is tough), I'd be much more impressed if someone built the part that figures out the solution out of Legos...
• #### Uh.. (Score:1)

Last time I checked, Legos didn't have color
sensors...
• #### Re:Uh.. (Score:1)

In a way they do, as the light sensor can be used to identify color. Given that it only works in extremely controlled conditions, you can identify different colors based on the intensity (resistance) given off by the sensor, as different colors reflect different ammounts of light.
• #### Re:Uh.. (Score:1)

Or you could have a series of different coloured filters. Move each filter over the sensor in turn, while shining bright white light at the face...

A Babbage Difference Engine built out of Legos? They've got all the gears and stuff...
• #### How fast? (Score:2, Funny)

So how fast can it solve it?
The article doesn't say?
• #### Re:How fast? (Score:1)

30 seconds a move, the robot is covered in a recent spectrum article
• #### Some Brazillians did this years ago (Score:1)

Several years ago when I was looking for pages on how to solve the cube I came across this page at Universidade de Sao Paulo [pcs.usp.br]. It has several pictures and what seems to be a broken links to animations. The page is in English so no need for the fish.

They didn't use legos though. Instead they used big robotic arms. I think it was a project at the USP AI lab. They actually taught their robot how to solve the cube, rather than downloading someone else's code from an FTP site. The Lego solution probably wins on the geek factor though.

• #### Apache running on mindstorm would work better (Score:2, Funny)

If only their webserver were built from Lego:

Microsoft OLE DB Provider for ODBC Drivers error '80040e14'

[Microsoft][ODBC SQL Server Driver][SQL Server]Line 1: Incorrect syntax near ''.

/inventions/invention.asp, line 64

Anyone have a link to a cache or mirror? Sounds very cool.
• #### Re:Apache running on mindstorm would work better (Score:1)

Now they need to make a Lego robot to correct this error
• #### How long will it be (Score:1)

Before someone builds a lego von neumann machine [everything2.com]?

Think of the possibilities. There could be a lego arena game where the combatant machines attempt to disassemble each other and build analogs of themselves, sort of battle bots meets Core Wars [everything2.com].

Of course this could lead to Earth being taken over by lego-based lifeforms.
• #### Re:How long will it be (Score:1)

Just remember, there's little that a lego creation can do when struck with a heavy, blunt object. (preferably orthogonal to the direction of construction, for maximum damage)
• #### homemade solver (Score:4, Interesting)

on Friday September 07, 2001 @01:28PM (#2263942) Homepage
I've some friends who built a similar machine, but with more primitive construction materials. They did it for a second year design course at the University of Toronto. Details available here [utoronto.ca].
• #### some retro solution alternatives (Score:1)

I remember when that daggoned cube came out. There were a slew of less then reputable ads that came out in the backs of magazines and comic books promising a solution. Most of them looked like this:

High Impact [harborfreight.com]

Incisive [amazon.com]

Hot [fireworksland.com]

• #### 4D Rubik's Cube (Score:1, Redundant)

While the physical cube can currently not be built, you can solve it through the portal of your computer screen.

Magic Cube 4D [superliminal.com]

I think 6 rotations was my highest difficulty solution, 5 is hard, 4 is difficult, 3 and less is cake.

• #### This is pretty cool, but... (Score:1)

I'm actually doing AI research and building lego robots in school. Yep, that's right, my CompSci department is offering a robotics course using mindstorm controllers and light / touch /whatever sensors. Yep. I'm getting college credit for playing with legos.
• #### Don't forget Boatman! (Score:1)

Poking around his other PhotoPoint [photopoint.com] albums, I came across another very cool creation, Boatman [photopoint.com]! Definitely not to be missed. He looks so serene, paddling on the lake. I love the eyes. :-)

Check his boatman in his other PhotoPoint [photopoint.com] album here [photopoint.com].

-me

• #### Re:Don't forget Boatman! (Score:1)

Glad you liked Boatman -- I built it in a couple of days to relax after finishing the copies of CubeSolver for LEGO.

If anyone's interested, they can see some of my other stuff here...

• Aegis [lego.com]: [lego.mindstorms.com] Vision-aware projectile firer; was designed as a squirrel repllent, but actually used to harrass coworkers stealing office supplies.
• BipedII [lego.com]: [lego.mindstorms.com] Single-RXC biped. Mildly nifty-looking, but not very challenging. Won the monthly Mindstorms Hall of Fame, though
• HanoiSolver [lego.com]: [lego.mindstorms.com] Solves the 'Towers of Hanoi' puzzle.
• K9 [lego.com]: [lego.mindstorms.com] RCX dog with Vision Cam that fetches a white ball.
• Quad_I [lego.com]: [lego.mindstorms.com] Nifty-looking hybrid electric motor-pneumatic 4-legger.
• Xilo [lego.com]:[lego.mindstorms.com] Vision Cam controlled robot that plays a xylophone.
Cheers, JP
• #### Can't read the story: Web page gives MSOLE error.. (Score:1)

Great...

Microsoft OLE DB Provider for ODBC Drivers error '80040e14'

[Microsoft][ODBC SQL Server Driver][SQL Server]Line 1: Incorrect syntax near ''.

/inventions/invention.asp, line 64

• #### Incrediable (Score:1)

This is awesome!

I played with Lego a lot as a child... having had two older brothers who allowed me to inherit their vast collect (remember the old colored gears? The realy BIG red ones?)... as a kid nothing fascinated me more than them making a big 'gear machine' for me to play with.

I'm an adult now, and I still play with Lego. I went out and bought the MindStorm as soon as it came out. Most of my friend thought I was nuts to spend 100's on Legos... but they just didn't understand =).

Specifically, I love this guys description of how he did things... dealing with back-lash on worm gears, and the cure. The pictures are AMAZING!

My latest creation: a six legged walker... can clear about an inch with each step, fairly stable, too. But I am humbled by this creation.

I've been working on taking my Palm 500 with wireless add-on and using it as a link to stronger brain (i.e. computer)... I have 'add ons' to the tune of ultra sonice sensors that allow for sensing object in the four directions around the machine. I want it to be able to wander around and map a location... sending back info the main computer, which builds up a DB of surrondings.

It's an excellent geek project!

Hats off!

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