Ever tried solving the Rubik's cube? I tried it once during grade school and failed miserably! I tried solving it again during college when a friend brought one to school, and to no surprise, I still failed miserably (although I broke my family's Rubik's cube and arranged it to it's correct form to give me satisfaction!). Even 95% of Mensans (group of people with incredibly high IQ's) are unable to solve the cube!
Many have also tried to use computers to help solve the Rubik's cube, some have even created computer aided machines to help solve the cube. This is where the Lego Rubik Utopy(LRU) comes in. Created and programmed by a cool Italian dude named Daniele Benedettelli, the LRU is able to solve the cube in 1 min and 45 seconds! Daniele's inspiration for the LRU comes from JP Brown's CubeSolver.
Pictured the left is the User Interface (UI) of the LRU, and is the brain of the LRU. The algorithm he used was the Iterative Deepening A*, and if I remember my Artificial Intelligence right, it is a depth-first search used to look for the best path (least cost) to the best solution. Daniele also used Lego Brainstorm's new brick set - NXT (JP Brown uses the old RCX brick set). The LRU features 3 servo motors with the help of light and touch sensors to power the arm and turn the cube for adjustment. And did you notice the web cam? It is responsible for capturing the current position of the face colors, and sends the information back to the UI for processing.
Below is a sample shot done by Daniele. It's really scary to think that people like Daniele can already solve puzzles like this! Now I just have to practice once more and hopefully crack the puzzle!