Every time I read or hear about someone (or something) setting a new record with the Rubik’s Cube, I think to myself: “How many times can the record be beaten?” After all, there ought to be a minimum time that is humanly (or mechanically) possible to solve this puzzle!
Earlier this year, a 15-year-old kid set a new record by solving a 3x3x3 cube in merely 6.24 seconds. As I said before, that time is so short that the average person might not even have the time to take in what he has to do to solve the puzzle.
It’s not all about humans wanting to set a Rubik’s Cube record, though. There have also been a series of machines – robots, if you will – trying to pit their stuff against what humans have brought to the table. Arguably, at the end of the day, humans are still responsible for these machines. Remember Ruby the robot who was able to solve the cube in about 10 seconds? She got a lot of attention for her feat, which is not much compared to what Feliks was able to do, but excellent for a robot.
Ruby’s time on the podium has expired, though, with the creation of CubeStormer II. Not only has this machine set a new Rubik’s Cube record for robots – it also has beaten the humans! Taking only 5.35 seconds to solve the cube, CubeStormer II ought to be every Rubik’s Cube enthusiast’s role model.
CubeStormer II was designed and built by Mike Dobson and David Gilday, who must be grinning smugly about their creation, which, by the way, is constructed from LEGO. More info on the construction of CubeStormer II:
The mechanics are constructed entirely from LEGO, including four MINDSTORMS NXT kits, with the addition of a Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone running a custom Android app as the robot’s brain. Both the MINDSTORMS NXT kits and the Samsung Galaxy SII use a variety of ARM – based processors.
Here’s something even more impressive:
Human speedcubers’ solve times only include the physical manipulation of the cube and don’t include some time which is allowed to “inspect” the cube beforehand. Times recorded by CubeStormer II are for the total solve including: image capture, software solution calculation and physical solve.
I guess that machines have won this round. In the meantime, humans can practice learning how to solve Rubik’s Cube in 20 moves.
Here’s CubeStormer II in action.
Photo via Steve Rhodes