OpenAi's robotic hand can solve a Rubik's Cube / Photo Credit: VSM Fotografia (via Shutterstock)
Solving a Rubik’s cube with two hands is hard and solving it with one hand is a lot harder, according to Peter Holley of Washington D.C.-based newspaper The Washington Post. Of course, it is even harder to design a robot that can solve a Rubik’s cube with one hand by itself. Such feat would require “unprecedented dexterity and coordinated finger joint movements.” It would also need to acquire the ability to “learn a new task over time and independently.”
San Francisco-based research lab OpenAI created a robotic hand, dubbed as Dactyl, that enabled robots to move closer to achieving “human-level dexterity,” as said in a statement. The statement explained, “Solving a Rubik’s Cube requires unprecedented dexterity and the ability to execute flawlessly or recover from mistakes successfully for a long period of time.” Even if a human were to solve a Rubik’s cube with one hand, it would prove to be a daunting task since there are “43,252,003,274,489,856,000 ways to scramble a Rubik’s Cube.”
The statement noted that the researchers are taking a step closer to creating general-purpose robots that could solve “any simulatable dexterous tasks.” The robotic hand is not designed to solve Rubik’s cubes. But it is meant to demonstrate the “physical manipulation of the puzzle.” Open Ais researchers explained that they did not program Dactyl to solve the puzzle. Instead, it was trained using virtual simulations before it was tested with challenges in the physical world.
The researchers’ rationale is to “develop a robot that learns the way humans do,” notably, through trial and error. Dactyl was forced to hold and move the Rubik’s cube by itself before it could solve the puzzle by itself. The more Dactyl’s algorithm grew more adept at each stage of learning, the difficulty of the challenges scaled. The researchers recounted that they tried to put a rubber glove on Dactyl, tying its fingers together, and using a blanket to perturb and occlude the hand. “We poked the Rubik’s Cube with different objects all while it continued to try to solve the Rubik’s Cube, they added.”