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MIT staff blogger Ben Jones

While You Wait… by Ben Jones

Like robotics? Like the Rubik's Cube?

Like robotics? Like the Rubik’s Cube?

Check out this video that someone sent me.


(Sorry for the short post! Back to selection…)

55 responses to “While You Wait…”

  1. Rafi says:

    Wow… i cant figure out a rubiks for the life in me…

  2. elizabeth says:

    Yeah, I’ve never done it, but there are actually some really simple rules you can follow to do it… you don’t actually have to be an uber-genious. I was pretty disillusioned when I found that out…

  3. ICE says:

    funny~Thank you~

    That device don’t same as a general robot. Maybe it is useless for industry,but I feel obliged to make some fancy projects. Because fancy projects maybe useless,today.But useful in future.That is true research and that is a way,I am.

    Experience is the mother of wisdom. From a technical point of view,We can learn a lot of things from that Robot,such as Motor control(forward and backword,step motor or H-bridge implement , position sensor and control),Embedded system ,mcu,programmeable logic array,etc. them are very useful technology to Implement a true robot.

    In China,We have studied a lot of theories from School.But a lot of students can’t find some approached(methods) to use the theory. that is fun. Better to do well than to say well.

    finally, I think, That Implement some fancy projects is very useful to improve creativity,and that is fun.

  4. NICE one BEN!! thnx

    The good think about a Rubik’s Cube is that you wouldn’t want to stop untill your done. But sometimes it gets you really MAD. lol smilesmile

  5. Loretta says:

    Guys, I was so nervous about maybe, hopefully (cross your fingers!) going to MIT because I heard the kids were all weird, and maybe had personal hygiene problems, but now, seeing all of you on the boards, I know if we went to school together we would be BEST FRIENDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Now I’m going to go pwn at CS to calm down. I’ll be in your base, killin your d00ds.

  6. Vale,
    sabe alguien un poquito de español? No tengo bastante fluencia pero quiero aprender más del lengua más lindo, Inglés….para hacer eso tengo ganas de tener una novia linda, quizas asiatico. Hay muchas chicas asiaticas que asista al MIT, verdad?

    Si quieres un poquito de amor español…responde.

    Guillermo Roberto

    Espero tu respuesta, chicas asiaticas

  7. ICE says:

    i think,the arithmetic of that robot like the Tower of hanoi. But I don’t know that how to get the initializtion status and make sure work done?

    Use a camera get the picture of Cube and process the picture? But this method is a waste of talent.

    Let me think about…

  8. Daniel says:

    I can solve the cube pretty quickly for a beginner (about 5 minutes), but I’m no speed-cuber (the record is 11.13 seconds)…

    I’m working on a program that finds optimal solutions (most instances, if not all, can be solved in 20 moves or less). I suppose the next obvious step would be designing a robot to perform those optimal solutions… Too bad I know nothing about robotics.

  9. Chris says:

    Rubik’s cube is almost entirely algorithms. It does take skill and practice though.

  10. Sean says:

    Ah yes the Rubiks cube. Erno Rubik has made some other nasty little puzzles also. He made a clock (Rubik’s Clock) that is pretty puzzling, but the solution is somewhat easier to get than the Cube solution is. Ive only figured out the Cube once. Since then Ive been too afraid to try again. :(

  11. Anonymous says:


    funny, I can solve a

  12. Anonymous says:

    ..rubik`s cube in six hours. (:

  13. Maia says:

    I used to have a rubik’s cube that wasn’t square, but when you finished it, all the pieces lined up to make it square. I never did complete it, even though I had it for seven years. I eventually gave it to charity, which was probably more cruel to the recipient than leaving it in my drawer.

    I suppose the robot was not preprogrammed with the necessary motions? The camera flash looked like it was actually photographing the cube to find out which moves it needed…wow.

    Para Guillermo:
    En mi juicio, parece raro que quieres asistir a MIT para buscar una novia asiatica. Pero tienes razon–hay muchas chicas asiaticas en MIT. (No soy asiatica, lo siento.) Tambien primero creo que debes preguntar a las chicas… sin embargo, buena suerte.

  14. glareflair17 says:

    The aspect that is really smart is the fact that somebody actually degined a robot to solve the Rubik’s cube that quickly. Wow.

  15. Matthew says:

    Funny… we are the brightest people of our generation and have trouble figuring out a simple three-dimensional object. How are we supposed to figure out the fourth?!?

    I know!!! We can make the robot do it!!!

  16. Adam S. says:

    First off, thanks for the post Ben. I know you’re probably extremely busy, but believe me, reading your blogs does wonders to reduce the anxiety of several hundred people!

    I love Rubiks Cubes! I’m not great (I can solve in about 1 min. 30 sec.) but it sure is a lot of fun.

    The flash that the robot made was to make sure that the cube was illuminated at roughly the same level each time (so that it functions in light or dark areas) and they’ve probably just got a few light sensors of some sort. Processing a picture would be a bit wasteful, I think. When I designed a line following robot a couple of years ago, I used an LED to illuminate the path at the same level each time, and it worked quite well.

    Hope to see some of you online on that chat at http://www.whitehatdesign/chat sometime later tonight!


  17. Snively says:

    I saw “Rubik’s Cube” in the headline of this blog and leapt to open it. . . I’m somewhat of a Rubik’s nut. I have about 10 normal cubes, a 4×4, a 5×5, a Square One (somebody else commented about this one, it’s not a cube at first, it changes shapes), a Rubik’s snake, Rubik’s Sudoku, Rubik’s cube keychain, and Star Wars Rubik’s cubes.

    My average time for a solve is about 55 seconds and believe me folks, with practice, that isn’t too hard to achieve, and it makes a great conversation piece. Seriously.

    Here’s my guess about the robot, it doesn’t look at the stickers. As long as you program in where the different cubes are, there are plenty of computer algorithms that can solve the cube. The fewest number of turns required to solve the cube from any position is 21.

    Overall, Rubik’s cubes rock!

  18. Andrew says:

    “”Now I’m going to go pwn at CS to calm down. I’ll be in your base, killin your d00ds.””

    a g1rl pwning? omg. I hope you’re using the scout.

    That is a very interesting video. Maybe I will get a rubik’s cube to play with and awe my friends. Now if I can only google how to do it easily smile

    Is it saturday yet? no…darn.

  19. Yuri says:

    Jin: Nope, sorry. I am a Yuri from Mathcamp.

  20. Yuri says:

    That is really awesome.

    The “while you wait” title is actually ridiculously accurate for me, because recently if I’m anxious and my hands have nothing else to be doing I end up solving the Rubik’s Cube nonstop. (At least I’ve knocked almost ten seconds off my time. raspberry)

  21. Mike says:

    Time is getting near so I just logged on to the website in anxiety. Can’t believe all that you guys have done! Dan Beard – thanks for the unofficial site. The new MIT dorm room webcam is woooot.

  22. Peter says:

    Thank you so much Ben, this was a most interesting clip. I agree with a number of prople who posted here that processing a picture would have been wasteful, perhaps the robot could have come eqquiped with lasers and albedo sensors. It was awesome nonetheless, seeing something so un-anthropomorphic preform a feat that I’ve always regarded a very human thing to do, even though I know that there are very simple rules that could be programmed into the robot. Perhaps, it’s because machines, especialy ones that don;t look human, just don’t entertain themselves on a regular basis.

  23. Shawn says:

    Heh, that amuses me

  24. Jessica says:

    Those gear sounds would make a sweet ringtone.

  25. Are you kidding me here??? I never thought that this thing was actually possible to solve… Though I have seen people solve it, but i myself have never even come half as close as solving it… Can anyone here tell me how to go about it… I desperately wanna give it a go now…!!!

  26. ICE says:


    I think,use Fuzzy Control technology,maybe is a better choice. Because,sometimes we can’t find a optimal solutions to solve a complex problem. Although that process maybe more slow than optimal solutions,But use Fuzzy Control and machine learning we can soving a complex problem easily and possibly.

  27. Jin says:

    Yuri, are you the Yuri from CTD 2 summers ago?!

  28. Anonymous says:

    I think,Process of human solve cube is a fuzzy Control Process.

    A general guy maybe don’t know the optimal solutions,but he can complete that.

    fuzzy Control is a basic methods of Human solving problems.

  29. Sorry, but that robot is lame. To impress me you would have a robot arm pick up a cube from the table, rotate it in front of a camera, then have another manipulator arm move the cube faces and help the first arm change grips.

    I’m not talking crazy here… even the demo robot arm at the Boston Science Museum moves things around nicely. Building a machine which uses separate servomotors for each face in a fixed orientation is simply way too basic.

    Think big, you may be surprised how far you can go.

  30. Matt W says:

    Is it bad that half of my stickers have worn off? Cubes are really addicting!

  31. question! says:


    One question about admission process:

    I’m curious as to whether the admission process ever involves contacting the reference teachers/administrators by phone/email.
    Please identify situations when this would happen, if at all. I’m also a Canadian, so international applicants might receive different treatment?

    Int’l applicant

  32. Brandy says:

    That was great. I wonder why the robot was hard to understand though.

  33. Karen says:

    Guillermo –

    Yo soy hispana, pero no puedo hablar espanol muy bien porque me creci en los estados unidos. Ahorita, estoy viviendo en Taiwan pero el proximo año voy a attender MIT. Desuforunadamente (pues, para ti raspberry), tengo novio – como sea, no pienso que es buena idea a buscar novios en el internet, especialmente en la pagina de una universad. Pero si quieres, podemos ser amigos y tu puedes practicar ingles con mi y ayudarme con el espanol.

    Oh, and that Rubik’s Cube video is ah-maz-ing.

  34. Daniel says:

    If anyone is interested, there is a Facebook group called “I Want to Go to MIT!”… Just another thing for you to look at during the 5,385,832,096 times a day you get online to see if, by some freak mishap, MIT released the EA decisions early… =)

  35. ÜÜÜ “Mabuhay!” (It’s a salutation in Filipino ;D) Haha..

    I’ve been reading the threads and blog entries ever since, but since I’m not very busy today, I have the chance to post a response. Yeah, thank God, my first time! Ü

    Guess what?! Rubik’s cube and Robotics are two of the most important things in my life. Thank you, Sir Ben Jones, for the topic Ü. ÜÜÜ I first learned how to solve the 3x3x3 cube, but I’m quite slower than Mr. Cheese in solving it (35-45 secs on the average). Then I learned how to solve a 5×5, then a 2×2 and then a 4×4.

    Just like Mr. Snively, I have a wide collection of Rubik’s and Math puzzles (including jigsaw puzzles). In addition to that, I still borrow some from my teachers and friends. Hehe… I also play with square-1, Rubik’s UFO, and those steel, interlocking chains which you have to separate from one another which I also love! Although, most of the time, I get bored eventually with these chains since there are no other ways of solving it. When you already know how to separate the two chains, there’s no challenge anymore. (That’s why I just often borrow these types of puzzles. Hehe… ;P)

    Oh yes, moving on to Robotics, I’ve been taking up the Robotics elective offered in our school ever since I was a junior. The wonders of technology really amazes me, especially on how possible things could get. All you have to do is to stretch your imagination to a greater extent and then whoalla!! Here comes your robot and you’ll find yourself playing with it (or being played with it if that’s the case. Hehe…) Has anyone seen ASIMO? Haha.. he’s cute. He’s a humanoid. He’s really cute (especially when he goes down the stairs) and very interesting cause he could do a lot of things. Ü I wish I could design a thing like him. Haha.. Perhaps, a humanoid swimmer, hopefully soon! (at MIT ;P).

    Well, that’s all for now. I just wanted to satisfy my urge of sharing my interests with you guys. Hehe… Until next time. Farewell and God bless! ÜÜÜ

  36. Eleni says:

    Wow. I actually used to be able to do that, although not that fast. I find the concept of this robot interesting though…how much time was put in on the project, do you know?

  37. Yoshi says:

    no se ustedes pero yo soy de Mexico y bine a estudiar aqui en los estados unidos y no busco novia solo progressar (para eso hay paginas en el internet para conoser personas) y una pregunta pueden decir esto?
    El volcan de parangaricutirmicuaro se quiere
    desparangaricutirimisar el que lo desparangaricutirimise sera un buen desparangaricutirimisador

  38. cheese says:

    hey snively,
    i am a little bit of a fanatic with the cube, too. i don’t have QUITE the collection of rubik’s products that you do, but i do have a couple on the desk in front of me. i play with this thing waaaayyy too much… i’m down to a little under 21 seconds average!
    yeah i really need something to do, i’m way too anxious about my mit early action decision… i was browsing these blogs in the hopes that they would calm my nerves but… they’re not really helping. oh well.

  39. Christina says:

    Baker had a talent show a little while ago and one performance consisted of a Rubik’s Cube competition. smile

  40. Rachel says:

    Whoa, it’s Yuri from Mathcamp! Hi smile

    I just started learning blindfold solving. Woot.

  41. ICE says:


    I think some machine of Pipeline is robot,also. they have some simple function that is without camera.

    I think,That some people pay more attention to arithmetic and other people pay attention to mechanism is a better choice. The difference only can make our community stronger than past.

    Today,we have a great number of theory,knowledge.Nobody can grasp all knowledge.So we need divide the work.

    I think first robot pay attention to arithmetic,Second is mechanism. That is nice. Because,I think nobady is good at Image process,mechanism,Embedded system,arithmetic etc.We need team effort. But not everyone have a chance to work with a strong team.

  42. ICE says:

    I am sorry for my English. I got a cold.Dizziness…


  43. Karen,
    claro que si….todos necesitan amigos y no soy excepción….pero tu novio…es guapo? Quizas un poquito, pero no demasiado guapo…esto estoy seguro de. Todos saben que los amores españoles son los mejores del mundo. Me duele el corazon de que tu no seas mas interesado….

    Pues, esto no me importa. Hay muchas peces asiaticas en el mar (Una idioma inglaterra, verdad?) Vamos a ser amigos….guay, no!

    Guillermo Roberto

  44. Adam C says:

    I love the rubiks cube. That thing frustrated me beyond belief at first but I got it down now. No speedcubuing for me either, but I can knock it out in a few minutes or so. To have a robot that does it for me though, that would be something else. I give huge props to the people who designed that, very impressive.

  45. Shashank says:

    yepp saw this one quiet some time back, when i myself was preparing for a robotics competition….amusing!!!..really…

  46. '10 says:

    Hi, I was wondering if after a student is admitted to MIT, Is he/she allowed to see the records from his admssion process (E3 card, comments from readers, etc)?

  47. Eavn says:

    Rubik’s cube is so easy! You just take off the stickers and put them on in the right spot.

  48. Evan says:

    I think that’s the first time I have ever misspelled my name. Kind of pathetic.

  49. milena says:

    Yoshi, ese trabalenguas está tremendo!!! jajaja No pude decirlo rápido :(
    Oye, de qué parte de México eres? Yo soy de Puerto Rico pero tengo un amigo mexicano que iba a la escuela conmigo!! smile
    good luck to everybody with the decisions!

  50. milena says:

    A Yoshi: ese trabalenguas está tremendo!!! jajaja No pude decirlo rápido :(
    Oye, de qué parte de México eres? Yo soy de Puerto Rico pero tengo un amigo mexicano que iba a la escuela conmigo!! smile

    A Guillermo: de veras eres de España? Tu español es medio raro… Aun asi, es raro lo que estás buscando, una asiática que hable español, pero buena suerte con eso!!

    good luck to everybody with the decisions!

  51. WA says:

    Since the housing blog is clsed for response, I send it here:

    [email protected]

    I would love to know about dogs, fox terriers especially, like Milou.

  52. Brian says:

    What must I do to get into MIT? I go to a prestigious high school and this year, MIT deferred everybody! People who were high scorers in USAMO, people who were on the Chemistry Olympiad Team and all these geniuses got deferred! What must one do to get into MIT these days?

  53. Jas says:

    Ben! you are not writing much this year! I miss reading your blogs!!

  54. Ajay says:

    woot! Man do I love MIT? yup I DO! But I have loads of problems
    I am Ajay Chahar, a 16 year old student from India. I hail from a middle class family. My father is an Army Officer in the Indian Army. I want to pursue my higer education at MIT(aerospace engg.). The only hinderance is my financial status. My parents cant afford the costs. They have an annual income of $7000. I am listing a few of my achievements:

    1. Secured 2nd Rank in 7th International Level Science Talent Examination conducted by The Bangalore Science Forum.
    2. Represented Delhi Public School Rajkot at ‘LISTEN- The Worlds First Conference on Childs Concerns’.
    3.Secured 3rd Rank in National Cyber Olympiad.
    4. Secured 7th position in Assesment of Scholastic Skills thorugh Education Testing
    5. Appointed School Captain recently.
    6. Awarded ‘A’ Certificate by National Cadet Corps
    7. Special appreciation by ‘Leprosy Mission’ for social work.
    8. Represented K V at the State Science Fair at IIT Kharagpur.
    9. Represented region at State for Volleyball and Ball Badminton.
    10. Won state level debate organised by Hindi Samaj
    11. Appointed school basketball and volleyball team Captain.
    12. Appointed School Captain at DPS, Rajkot.
    13. Choosen as a member of the Indian Ubuntu Linux Team.

    I am in dire need of financial aid. I will be finishing my high school in 2008.