Resistance is Futile: Balancing Cubes Are Taking Over!

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a balancing cube, but as different companies and universities start making them, we’re excited to see how they continue to develop. This one doesn’t really have a catchy name, but its designers [Erik Bjerke] and [Björn Pehrsson] call it a Nonlinear Mechatronic Cube.

Very similar to Cubli — the first self-balancing cube inside of balancing cubewe remember seeing — this cube can jump up from surfaces, “walk” and balance in any orientation.

The system features an IMU to determine orientation, three gyros powered by beefy 70W motors, three bicycle brakes powered by servo motors, and a microprocessor to control it all.

The way it balances is quite obvious with the gyros, but the ability to jump comes from the rapid breaking of the “reaction wheels”, allowing for a sudden impulse of force that is powerful enough to reorient the entire cube. The interesting part is how both systems are actually controlled individually with separate control systems.

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A Balancing, Walking Cube Named Cubli

Meet Cubli! Cubli is a 15 x 15 x 15cm robotic cube that can roll around and balance on its corners using a series of gyroscopes.

The project has been going strong since February 2011 at the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control in Zurich, where it is starting to get quite impressive. We first shared Cubli earlier this year, when it was just a wee 2-dimensional and corded 3-dimensional prototype.

Since then, it has become a fully enclosed wireless cube capable of jumping up on its end, balancing, and controlled falling — it can walk and roll! To do this, it has three large reaction wheels on each axis which can impart their angular velocity on the entire cube when the braked, allowing it to move in any direction.

According to the video after the break, the team is just building the cube “because they can”, however other researchers are interested in the technologies applications in self-assembling robots, and even planetary exploration.

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