This Homemade Robot Can Solve A Rubik's Cube In One Second

So a LEGO robot might be able to monster a Rubik's cube in a little over three seconds, but put together a dedicated machine from a more flexible part list and well, the popular multi-coloured puzzle gets dominated. Try 1.019 seconds on for size.

A pair of guys on YouTube by the names of Jay Flatland and Paul Rose built there own mechanical solver using an array of webcams, 3D printed frames and stepper motors. There's nothing inherently complex about the setup -- in fact, it looks like more work went into the software:

As you can see in the image, the program takes the image input from the cameras and converts it into a "unrolled" version for human consumption, as well as something the solver can understand. The robot is wired to function only when all cameras are working, so priming is done by simply putting paper in front of one of the lenses.

The machine gets a few runs over the course of the 3:39 video, returning a total of three results: 1.196s, 1.047s and a smoking 1.019s right at the end. Apparently they're sorting out official recognition for breaking the world record... and I imagine they'll get it.

[YouTube, via Reddit]

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    Nice. Sounds like the key is the use of an already existing optimal solving algorithm. So the cameras see the initial state of the cube, the algorithm works out the minimum number of moves to complete, then they are all performed at high speed.

    The success is in how they engineered a whole bunch of existing technologies together to solve a specific problem. They mention 3d printing which solves the time/cost problem of custom components. They have achieved at a hobby level what would have been an incredible achievement at an academic/research level even a decade ago.

    Also there might be a market for this machine as a way of scrambling cubes for competition - imagine if you had a box that would scramble lots of cubes identically. You could then set each round for everyone with an identical starting position.

    Actually just looked this up, there are rules about this stuff:
    They could integrate with the official "WCA scramble program". Essentially, the machine should be able to get a cube to any state very quickly.

    Then you would be possibly selling to both rubiks cube competition organisers, plus competitors for training. Build software into the machine for training that helps you with the optimal solution and you have an all round actual product with a real (admittedly small) market.

    Not that impressed. Notice that this robot already knows the orientation of the cube before it starts. Cubestormer has to determine that. In this case the cube has to be placed in the machine the right way around before it even starts. Also, it requires a specially modified cube.

    Well I guess it doesn't have hands. But regardless of how the cube has to be positioned/held it doesn't have to be "placed in the machine the right way around before it even starts". As long as it's been held/secured correctly it's good to go from the moment the cameras send the signal to the software/algorithm. They've done exactly what the article and andye said - beautifully engineered existing technologies together to achieve the fastest rubiks cube solver. An elegant solution indeed.

    A Rubik's cube can be solved from any position in at most 20 moves. I haven't checked, but I assume the algorithm referred to in the video works out what those moves are from the starting position and fires off the motors in the order required.

    Also, *their.

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