Cubli Is A Gravity-Defying Cube That Can Jump, Balance And Walk Under Its Own Power

Similar to how satellites are stablised in space, Cubli can detect disturbances to adjust its position while balancing on its corner, and also rotate on the spot. The future is already here, folks.

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Designed by a team at the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, the Cubeli is a small cube capable of balancing, walking, and jumping on its own

Cubli measures just 15cm in height and uses reaction wheels that rotate at high angular velocities to enable it to jump up and travel in a given direction.

While the clever cube is currently a prototype, some researchers hope to use its method of moving along for planetary exploration vehicles and even self-assembling robots.

Here the mechanical cube shows off its moved by jumping from its 'resting position to balancing on its edge before jumping onto its corner

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Cubli contains a trio of reaction wheels that rotate extremely fast and can be controlled in speed and combination to create gravity-defying tricks

It consists of three reaction wheels, each attached to a brushless DC motor, plus movement sensors, an embedded processor and battery.

Perhaps more impressively, it can also balance on any of its sides or even just a single corner

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The sensors are used to estimate the tilt of the cube and provide the angular velocity - the angular speed at which an object is rotating along with the direction in which it is rotating - of the reaction wheels, which are mounted on three faces of the cube.

The reaction wheels can brake suddenly to cause the Cubli to jump up from its ‘resting position’ onto one of its edges without external support, as it transfers momentum from the wheel’s to the cube’s body.

Cubli can detect disturbances to adjust its position while balancing on its corner

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As shown here, Cubli is able to balance on one corner and spin

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Balancing on its corner is achieved by two ‘jump up’ manoeuvres.
The first one raises the Cubli from one of its faces so that it can balance on its edge, while the second one raises it from the edge to one of its corners.

The miniature mechanical device is able to use a ‘controlled fall’ to travel in a certain direction and when it combines its jumping, balancing and falling moves, it can ‘walk’ across a surface, the scientists said.

Cubli uses two manoeuvres to jump from its resting position to one of its edges and then balance on one of its corners. The mechanical device can detect disturbances to adjust its position while balancing on its corner (illustrated) and also rotate.

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While the technology could be used in future space explorer vehicles and self-assembling robots, the ‘cool little cube’ was simply designed to ‘jump up, balance and walk,’ its creators said. Watch the Cubli in action, here:

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The video above suggests potential uses such as planetary exploration or self-assembling robots, perhaps similar to MIT’s self-assembling M-Blocks