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Why Is This Robot Playing with a Rubik’s Cube?

Featuring an AURIX™ microcontroller, one of the world’s most powerful minicomputers, “Sub1 Reloaded” managed to solve a Rubik’s Cube within 637 milliseconds, the best time upon invention of the cube 30 years ago. Photo credit: Infineon
Featuring an AURIX™ microcontroller, one of the world’s most powerful minicomputers, “Sub1 Reloaded” managed to solve a Rubik’s Cube within 637 milliseconds, the best time upon invention of the cube 30 years ago. Photo credit: Infineon

Solving a Rubik’s cube in record-breaking time of .63 seconds isn’t necessarily serious business for semiconductor manufacturer, Infineon. However, the company recently put their technology to work doing just that in a robot on display at the Electronica trade show in Munich, Germany. The machine, named “Sub1 Reloaded” was outfitted with Infineon microchips and one of the company’s AURIX microcontrollers in order to take on the challenge of solving a Rubik’s cube in the shortest time possible. For a human, the current record is 4.9 seconds.

The purpose of this fun demonstration was to illustrate something more serious, the processing power and reaction time possible with Infineon technology currently in use in the automotive industry.

Here is what Infineon says about the demonstration:

It takes tremendous computing power to solve such a highly complex puzzle with a machine. In the case of “Sub1 Reloaded”, the power for motor control was supplied by a microcontroller from Infineon’s AURIX™ family, similar to the one used in driver assistance systems. Minimal reaction times play an even greater role in autonomous driving. A high data-processing rate is necessary to ensure real-time capabilities with clock frequencies of 200 MHz. As a result of this ability, a vehicle can safely and reliably apply the brakes when it approaches a barrier.

“Sub1 Reloaded” contains a number of other microchips. Like most devices we use every day, they link the real and digital worlds. The attempt started with the press of a button. The shutters of the sensor cameras were removed. The machine then detected the position of the elements. These had been previously scrambled, in accordance with the special requirements of the World Cube Association. The computing chip, or the “brain” of the machine, figured out the fastest solution and transmitted the necessary commands to the power semiconductors. These “muscles” then activated six motors, one for each side of the cube, at record speed and then brought them to a halt – all within the fraction of a second.

Every Rubik’s cube can be unscrambled with just 20 movements. A variety of algorithms can be used to solve the puzzle, the most well-known of which is the Fridrich Method. But Infineon’s constructor Albert Beer did not design his prodigy with the fewest moves in mind. Rather, he was intent on achieving the best time – he even allowed the “Sub1 Reloaded” a few extra moves to reach this goal.

For more information about the demonstration, visit http://www.infineon.com/cms/en/about-infineon/press/press-releases/2016/INFXX201611-014.html

 

Want to make your own Rubik’s cube solving machine? Check out this video:

 

 

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