There’s nothing like throwing a mind-blowing amount of 21st-century technology at a 1970s problem and Rubik’s Cube seems like a popular nerdy problem to solve. I blogged about one Lego-based puzzle-solving robot a few weeks ago and now ARM has just posted a video of a new, faster robot called CubeStormer II that solves the puzzle in 8 seconds after pressing the “go” button.
Mike Dobson and David Gilday, creators respectively of the original CubeStormer and Android Speedcuber robots, designed, built, and programmed the CubeStormer II. The mechanical part is completely based on LEGO, using parts from four MINDSTORMS NXT kits. A Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone running a custom Android app serves as the robot’s brain. Both the MINDSTORMS NXT kits and the Samsung Galaxy SII use a variety of ARM-based processors. (Imagine that!)
The cube-solving app uses the Samsung smartphone’s camera to capture images of each face of the Rubik’s Cube puzzle, which it processes to determine the scrambled starting configuration. The solution finder uses an advanced two-phase algorithm—originally developed for Speedcuber—that’s been multi-threaded to make effective use of the smartphone’s 1.9GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor. The software finds an efficient solution to the puzzle that’s optimized for the CubeStormer II’s four-grip mechanism.
The app running on the Samsung smartphone communicates via Bluetooth with software running on the ARM microprocessors in the LEGO NXT Intelligent Bricks that control the motors driving CubeStormer II’s grippers. The app uses OpenGL ES on the phone’s ARM Mali-400 MP GPU to display a graphical version of the cube in real time as the puzzle is being solved.
Human speedcubers’ solve times only include the physical manipulation of the cube and don’t include some time which is allowed to “inspect” the cube beforehand. Times recorded by CubeStormer II are for the total solve including: image capture, software solution calculation and physical solve.
Want to see CubeStormer II in action?? Check it out at ARM TechCon 2011 in Santa Clara, California Oct 26-27th.