For those not in the know, there's a whole community out there based solving Rubik's Cubes as fast as possible. Entire competitions are set up to see who can solve a cube fastest. Currently, the fastest any humans has solved a cube in is 5.55 seconds by Mats Valk of the Netherlands. For robots, there's another record entirely — one that's recently been absolutely shattered.
David Gilday and Mike Dobson are the brains behind the CUBESTORMER 3, the smartphone-brained, LEGO-skinned robot that just entered the Guinness Book of World Records for solving a Rubik's Cube in just 3.253 seconds. That's over two full seconds faster than the previous robotic record of 5.27 seconds, incidentally held by the robot's predecessor, CUBESTORMER 2. The process is so quick that the human eye can't actually keep up.
That crazy speed, say Gilday and Dobson, was one of their chief concerns going into the record attempt. After all, how do you make sure your robot is performing perfectly if you can't see what it's doing? It took some serious work, all donated in their off hours, but Gilday seems pretty happy with the result:
"In the end, the hours we spent perfecting the robot and ensuring its motor and intelligence functions were properly synchronized paid off. Our big challenge now is working out if it’s possible to make it go even faster."
That sounds a lot like there will be a CUBESTORMER 4 sometime in the near future. A lot of impressive engineering will have to go into that next robot, however. The CUBERSTORMER 3 is already uses a Samsung Galaxy S4 powered by an Exynos 5 Octa-core processor implementing four ARM Cortex-A15 and four ARM Cortex-A7 processors. Further ARM9 processors power the eight LEGO arms that solve the cube. Now, if only it could be programmed to prepare dinner for us, too.