On Point: Robotic Cubli’s Superb Balance
The gyroscopic cube can jump up, rest on one edge, and even on one corner.
By via T3 - Filed Dec 24, 2013

Created by Swiss researchers at Zurich's ETH Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control, the Cubli has three internal spinning wheels, which provide a gyroscopic balancing force. 

Cubli can be commanded to fall in any direction. Combining these three abilities—jumping up, balancing, and controlled falling—the Cubli is able to 'walk'."

Inertial sensors connected to an embedded processor and controller keep the Cubli aware if its position and orientation, allowing it to stand up on one edge, the move up from there to a single corner and even spin.

Practical uses for the Cubli's unusual method of locomotion include walking around on planets during space exploration, and as a way to develop self-assembling robots. 

The principles are similar to those used in satellites to stabilise them in orbit, so they don't end up spinning around uselessly. 

A separate group of researchers at MIT demonstrated another use for blocks like this back in October: allowing a basic robot to reassemble itself. 

MIT's cubes had magnets embedded across their sides and edges, which let them grip each other and form different shapes. 

Though they weren't able to balance like the Cubli can, MIT's "M-blocks" could move much farther—actually hopping off the ground when getting around.

The Swiss researchers say: "But for us it's just a cool little cube that can jump up, balance, and walk."

Check out the video to see Cubli being put through its paces.


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