Swinburne students commended for Rubik’s Cube-solving robot

Australian companies cleaned up at the 2011 Asia Pacific ICT Alliance Awards, including a student start-up that has created the world’s fastest Rubik’s Cube-solving robot.


APICTA is an international awards program designed to stimulate ICT innovation and creativity, promote economic and trade relations, and facilitate technology transfer.


This year’s awards ceremony, held in Thailand, was attended by six Australian companies, three of which won their respective categories while the other three received merit awards.


Each company won the right to compete following success at Australia’s 2011 iAwards; the only internationally-affiliated awards program for Australian tech companies.


APICTA award winners include National ICT Australia, or NICTA, which won the research and development award for its Face Search Engine technology.


According to NICTA, this technology radically improves the speed and accuracy of recognising faces in low-quality video footage, such as that captured on CCTV cameras or mobile phones.


NICTA chief executive Phil Robertson says ICT R&D is “absolutely fundamental” to solve economic and social challenges, and is central to the transformation of industry sectors.


“This award is testament to NICTA’s strong belief that research excellence drives wealth creation,” Dr Robertson says.


The other award winners were Transmax, which took out the e-Government award, and the CSIRO, which won the award for sustainability and green IT.


Meanwhile, a group of students from Swinburne University received a merit award in the tertiary student project category for inventing the world’s fastest Rubik’s Cube-solving robot.


Aptly named Ruby, the robot can solve the scrambled puzzle in little more than 10 seconds, including the time taken to scan the initial status of the cube.


It was built by six engineering students as their final-year project. The students are twins David and Richard Bain, Daniel Purvis, Jarrod Boyes, Miriam Parkinson and Jonathon Goldwasser.


“Ruby works by scanning each face of a scrambled cube through a webcam,” Swinburne University professor Chris Pilgrim says.


“It then uses a software algorithm to develop a solution, which is fed to the high-speed robot through a real-time embedded control system.”


“The students’ combined expertise… enabled them to construct a robot with a fast computer vision-tracking system capable of very high precision movements and timings.”


The students are applying to have Ruby’s unusual skill recognised by Guinness World Records.


The other companies to receive merit awards were Transmax and the Australian e-Health Research Centre, which developed a tele-ophthalmology solution for people in remote regions.


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