Self-Balancing Cube Keeps Itself Standing On A Sharp Corner

With over 15 years of writing experience, Jonathan has had a passion for all things tech-related since watching Inspector Gadget as a child. He's disassembled countless appliances and managed to put a few back together, and one actually still works. When not writing, he can often be found playing video games or accidentally hurting himself tinkering in the garage.

Built by Dutchman Willem Penning after being inspired by the Cubli created by researchers at ETH Zurich, the Balancing Cube is a metal cube that can remain balanced on one of its corners. The cube uses spinning flywheels mounted on three adjoining sides to maintain balance along its X, Y, and Z axes. It’s like a gyroscope toy, but much more complicated than just pulling a string.

Since previous versions of a self-balancing cube were closed-source, Willem had to reverse engineer the entire build from scratch. And, being the kind-hearted tinkerer that he is, he’s shared his design, documentation, and files on GitHub in case you’re interested in building your own. That’s very thoughtful of him. I love a good open-source project.

“The design of the main attitude controller is most interesting. It is perhaps best explained as a negotiation between two contradictory objectives. The first objective is to keep the cube in its desired orientation, that is, at its unstable equilibrium position. A second goal, however, is to keep the wheel velocities to a minimum. Not considering this second objective could lead to wheels speeds getting out of control, saturating the motors, and thereby effectively rendering it unable to exert torques on the cube.”

It’s evident that an exceptional amount of consideration and work went into the final result- and what a result it is! I would love to have a self-balancing cube standing on the edge of my desk. If they were readily available, there’s no question these would be the must-have executive desk toy. Move over, Newton’s Cradle!

[via BoingBoing]