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.
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