Mark Rober’s robot named the Dominator created this Super Mario-themed mural in just over 24 hours. (Image Credit: Mark Rober)
Nothing demands automation more than setting up dominos.
Engineer and YouTuber Mark Rober developed a robot named Dominator that flawlessly arranged 100,000 dominoes to create a Super Mario Bros-themed mural in just over 24 hours. Dominator accomplished such a feat by putting down 300 dominoes, which are loaded into it by another robot. The entire process went through some trial and error to perfect the assembly. In the end, Rober and his team also came up with a way for a Super Mario Green Shell plush to knock them down. According to Robner, a project like this would take a week for seven human workers to complete.
Rober’s concept took three years to come to fruition. During that time, he struggled to figure out the technical specifications it would need to operate. The YouTuber mentioned the idea of a domino-laying robot at a Q&A, where two college students and a software engineer became interested in this project. Two years later, the team managed to implement the design and make it all work.
The robot uses a connect-4 tray to hold the dominoes in place before placing them onto the floor. (Image Credit: Mark Rober)
Rober also enlisted domino artist and YouTuber Lily Hevesh to compete with the Dominator just to see who could stack 300 dominoes quicker. Hevesh was quick, but her speed was no match against the Dominator. Dominator’s setup of 100,000 dominoes in 24 hours also set a Guinness Worl Record.
The robot uses 3D-printed funnels to place 300 dominoes all at once. Removing the funnels shows where the dominoes are precisely placed. This allows the Dominator to drop them in a specified area all at once. A connect-4 mechanism underneath prevents the dominoes from falling out. Triggering the servo causes the tray to slide over, dropping the dominoes from a height. This technique isn’t effective, so the team lowered the entire platform on the ball screw instead, allowing them to set the dominoes neatly.
Dominator also uses a camera and marker system along with a GPS to align the dominoes without knocking them over. (Image Credit: Mark Rober)
The team also created a series of blog posts dedicated to how the entire robot-building process evolved, from start to finish. Additionally, they provided information on how the software and hardware operate. More interestingly, the robot’s navigation utilizes GPS, but aligning the dominoes correctly without knocking them overtook a lot of trial and error. In the end, the team used a camera and marker system that solved the “last centimeter problem.”
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