Cubli’s 15x15x15 centimeter form is balanced by inertial sensors that monitor the position of Cubli and make adjustments for equilibrium.
Similar to mechanical systems used in satellites, the Cubli is equipped with reaction wheels whose high-velocity spinning and instantaneous braking manipulate the cube’s movement.
By controlling the torque of the reaction wheels, the Cubli can balance on a corner, fall, balance on an edge and then return to balancing on a corner. Maneuvered again and again from corner, to edge to falling, the Cubli can effectively hop and “walk” across a surface.
Designers hope that the Cubli will find a purpose in vehicles moving across planets or for self-assembling robots. There is no doubt that by itself, the Cubli is just a fun piece of machinery. But if we are able to engineer machines that have adroit self-control, it may be that they will become self-sufficient. Complex robotics will no longer need a human behind a computer to feed it corrective information; it will know what to do by itself against an obstacle.
Photo Credit: ETH Zurich