Rubik's Cube-solving robots break one-second barrier

6 pictures

Sub1 solves the Rubik's Cube in under a second

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The inventors of the Rubik's Cube-solving robot we looked at last month have achieved their goal of setting a new world record for solving a Rubik's Cube in the machine category of the Guinness World Records. But their crown may be short-lived, with another robotic contender appearing to have beaten their time – although unofficially, for the moment.

It appears robots have been swept up in the Rubik's Cube craze that us humans saw off in the early 80s, and they're putting the solving times our primitive hands and fingers are capable of to shame. Last November, a machine created by American student Zackary Gromko solved the multicolored cube in just 2.39 seconds. But just a few months later the record has been cut in half.

As planned, two friends from Kansas, Jay Flatland and Paul Rose, made their tilt at the official world record with their machine. With a Guinness World Record official in attendance, their machine solved a Rubik's Cube in just 0.9 seconds. Here's the video to prove it:

Flatland and Rose stole the crown from Gromko after just a couple of months, but they may lose the title even faster. Sub1, a machine created by industrial engineer and economist Adam Beer, is now throwing its circuit board into the ring. In fact, Beer says Sub1 was the first machine to break the one-second barrier, albeit unofficially, at the Cubikon store in Munich on January 23.

Beer says Sub1's attempt involved the use of a World Cube Association (WCA)-conform modified speed cube that was scrambled by a computer generated random array before being positioned in the robot. As soon as the start button was triggered, shutters were removed from two webcams, which each captured an image of three sides of the cube. These were relayed to a laptop, which identified the various colors and calculated a solution using "Tomas Rokicki's implementation of Herbert Kociemba's two-phase algorithm."

Once the solution was reached, it was forwarded to an Arduino-compatible microcontroller board that swung six high-performance steppers into action. After 20 moves and 0.887 seconds it was all over. There was no Guinness World Record official present at the world record attempt, but Beer says this is not required. He is preparing his world record claim, which will need to be investigated by Guinness before Sub1 can claim the title.

Sub1's 0.887 second world record attempt can be seen below.

View gallery - 6 images

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