How to solve a Rubik’s cube using a Lego Mindstorm robot

Recently I had to tear down my Mindcuber robot designed by David Gilday. Mindcuber is probably the best Rubik’s cube robot. It has worked 66 out of 70 times that I have used it with audiences from STEM, 4-H, Geek, church groups, and my extended family. Of all the robots that I have built, it remains the favorite. Coming in a distant second is R2D2 mainly because the little fella evokes a lot of good memories from the Star Wars era.

The reason I had to take it apart was a request I received to speak to a young women’s school in Eastern Kentucky (more on that in a later blog). The curator asked me to bring as many robots as I had. I decided to make a short video of Mindcuber to show the students and then use the Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 set and build a robot that could be controlled by a smartphone app.

So, for those that have always wanted to solve a Rubik’s cube and were unable, this video is for you!

 

 

You might notice how the color sensor is storing each ‘piece’ and its associated color in a matrix. The robot turntable moves the Rubik’s cube so all six sides are mastered by the color sensor which is attached to the NXT brain. After all the pieces are documented, the robot thinks for a moment to decide the fastest way to solve the puzzle. The solution for this Rubik’s cube takes less than 50 seconds to solve. Once all the moves are completed, the color sensor is notified by the NXT and it shines bright green to show its joy.

Why do you think audiences around the globe are so enthralled by this robot or for that matter, any robot that can solve a Rubik’s cube?  I’d love to get your feedback on this. Thanks.

 Quote for the Day: “We cannot discover new oceans until we have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”– Muriel Chen

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