This robot manages to solve a Rubik’s Cube in a second

So much for the glory of man. Absolutely obliterating the current human record for solving a Rubik’s Cube (4.904 seconds), a robot managed to crack the code to the famous puzzle in a mere 1.019 seconds. And if you’re thinking that it may have just been a fluke, think again. The cube-solving bot created by software engineers Jay Flatland and Paul Rose completed the challenge between 1 and 1.2 seconds in at least four separate attempts, getting faster each time.

With times of 1.196 seconds, 1.152 seconds, 1.047 seconds, and finally, 1.019 seconds, the robot has not only crushed the human record, but also blew right past the previous machine-set record of 3.253 seconds.

Comprised of stepper motors, 3D-printed frames, and four USB webcams linked to a PC, the robot machine works by first scanning the cube (as a human would) to figure out its arrangement. This data is then sent to the Kociemba Rubik’s Cube solving algorithm, which strategizes all the necessary moves, and then the robot has simply to execute. The machine, however, does have one advantage over humans — because robots (as of yet) lack opposable thumbs (or at least, this one does), the Rubik’s Cube used in these demonstrations all feature four holes drilled into each face of the cube for machine-handling purposes.

In order for the robot to properly complete its task, all four of its cameras must be able to see and assess the cube. Each time the puzzle must be reset, the cameras are covered with paper, a human scrambles the cube, and then the robot starts all over again.

Flatland and Rose have yet to officially submit their robot to the world records, but once they do, they’ll be assured the title. After all, it’s not every day that you manage to create a robot that’s 300 percent faster than its nearest competitor.

Computing

An inside look at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx, a revolutionary laptop processor

Six years after Microsoft’s failed foray into ARM computing with Windows RT, its second effort with Always-Connected PC is now showing early signs of success. Microsoft partner Qualcomm told us how the Snapdragon 8cx might revolutionize…
Outdoors

Forget pumps. This innovative filter purifies H2O in 8 seconds flat

The Grayl Geopress water purification system removes more than 99 percent of all bacteria, cysts, and viruses from water in just eight seconds, providing clean drinking water to travelers and outdoor adventurers.
Emerging Tech

This exotic new material somehow gets thicker when stretched

Scientists at the U.K.’s University of Leeds have discovered a synthetic material which actually gets thicker the more it’s stretched. Here are some of the things it could be used for.
Emerging Tech

Early-detection system for wildfires could save many states from big burns

When it comes to dealing with the growing problem of raging wildfires, a new wireless smart sensor system could help spot burgeoning blazes before they rage out of control. Here's how it works.
Outdoors

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Black Diamond and Petzl to Coast here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk to unveil tunnel elevators and autonomous pods on December 18

We'll soon learn if Elon Musk's high-speed tunnel plan is a serious effort at ending traffic jams or little more than a fancy theme park ride. A big unveiling event is coming on December 18, a week later than originally planned.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Features

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!