NPR logo Don't Blink: Robot Solves Rubik's Cube In Just Over 1 Second

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Don't Blink: Robot Solves Rubik's Cube In Just Over 1 Second

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In a blazing display of physical efficiency and analytical speed that's likely to infuriate anyone who's ever struggled to solve a Rubik's Cube puzzle, two guys in Kansas City, Mo., have built a robot that can solve the cube in an amazing 1.2 seconds.

Actually, some of the robot's times are under 1.2 seconds. A video on YouTube posted by software engineer Jay Flatland shows the robot — a collection of motors, webcams and 3D-printed parts — whizzing to a solution in 1.196 seconds.

One time recorded in the video was even quicker: 1.04 seconds. That came after Flatland covered the robot's cameras with a piece of paper and scrambled the cube by hand before replacing it in the frame.

The robot uses a specially prepared cube with small holes drilled into each side, allowing it to grip the cube securely. Describing the robot in the video, Flatland says information from four USB webcams is fed into a computer that uses a cube-solving algorithm called Kociemba, which then "determines a set of moves to solve the cube very rapidly."

The robot's time is several seconds faster than the fastest human time of 4.904 seconds, which was set in November by 14-year-old Lucas Etter of Lexington, Ky. It's also two seconds quicker than the time of 3.253 seconds that has been the robot record for solving a Rubik's Cube since March of 2014.

The Kansas City team of Flatland and fellow engineer Paul Rose hopes to have the record certified by the folks at Guinness World Records next week, Flatland tells NPR editor Avie Schneider.

The robot's times are impressive, but it has a ways to go if it wants to match the reaction to Etter's feat. Check it out:

YouTube