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Phone-driven robot aims to break Rubik’s Cube record

13 March, 2014

A robot controlled by a mobile phone will attempt to break the world record for solving a Rubik’s Cube at science fair in the UK on March 15. The dedicated cube-solving robot, called CubeStormer 3, will attempt to break the current record of 5.27 seconds, which was set two years ago by its predecessor, CubeStormer II.

The system uses a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone to analyse the cube and to instruct four robotic hands, formed from Lego Mindstorms modules, to do the manipulations. The motor sequencing and control functions, and the phone, are all powered by ARM processors.

CubeStormer 3 is the result more than 18 months of spare-time work by its co-designers David Gilday, a principal engineer at ARM, and Mike Dobson, a systems engineer for the electronic security company, Securi-Plex. The new design includes upgraded mechanics – such as a precision braking system that is expected to bring significant speed benefits. The software has also been optimised to take advantage of the increased mechanical flexibility as well as improvements in computing power achieved by moving from the dual-core processor in the previous Samsung Galaxy S2 phone, to an eight-core processor in the new phone.

“The record-breaking attempt is a bit of fun for us,” says Gilday. “Our real focus is to demonstrate what can be achieved with readily-available technology to inspire young minds into taking a greater interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“We’re already seeing robot technology deployed widely in the manufacturing industry but there is now potential for robots to cope with disruption,” he adds. “You can easily imagine a robot able to deal with minor surgical procedures or, perhaps, even a Michelin-starred robot chef?

“While the human brain is still far more powerful than any processor, it would be fantastic to see technology with real human-kind benefits being created by someone inspired by seeing CubeStormer 3 in action,” Gilday comments

The CubeStormer 3 cube-solving machine is based on Lego Mindstorms modules and controlled by a Samsung smartphone

“We are very confident the robot will break the record,” says Dominic Vergine, ARM’s head of corporate responsibility. “The new robot can think three times faster than its older brother.”

The previous record-breaking attempt went viral on YouTube, drawing around four million views. The CubeStormer 3 is expected to draw equal attention both on-line and from the crowds expected to attend the Big Bang Fair event in Birmingham, UK.

David Gilday is hoping to set two further world records with other ARM-based robots. The first is for the quickest completion of a 4x4x4 cube, using a robot based on a Huawei Ascend P6 smartphone.

Gilday will also try to solve a 9x9x9 cube – the first time that a robot has attempted this highly complex task, where the possible permutations run to 278 digits. The challenge will be taken on by Gilday’s MultiCuber 999 robot, which is controlled by a Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone powered by an Exynos 4 Dual processor.




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