TOTW: Rubik’s Cube Machine Beat Record With 3.25 Seconds
Everyone knows what a Rubik’s Cube is. For around 40 years, this 3D puzzle toy had been available for purchase, whether you are in a gas station, a toy store, or a Rite Aid. After all, over 300 million cubes have been sold worldwide. If you find any random person, chances are that they have tried a Rubik’s Cube, but gave up after awhile and never actually finished one in their lives. Only about 5% of the people in the world actually solve a cube, let alone even spare the time to try to work on it.
Though you have to give these people some credit. There are a possible 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 combinations that a cube could be in. You could easily spend a week on a cube, and then your mind would get used to the patterns and you could probably figure it out, but not many people do that. If you are really good at doing Rubik’s Cubes, there’s a good chance you’re a speedcuber.
Speedcubers are basically exactly what the name says: they try to finish cubes in record times. So far, in the history of Rubik’s cubes, humans, and our pattern recognizing brains and all, only can get 5.55 seconds. This time was set by Mats Valk, another speedcuber. To finish a cube, you have to twist it and turn it until the sides are all one color. Everyone knows that. But to finish a cube in record time, you have to do it in less moves than usual. Speedcubers can sometimes do it in about 40-50 moves. But somewhere out there, for each 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible combinations, there is a way to finish the cube in only 54 moves, as there are 54 colored squares on a cube. 54 isn’t the minimum amount of moves, though, as many algorithms and computer simulations have shown that it’s possible to solve the cube in an optimal range of 20 – 26 moves. In fact, an equation known as God’s Algorithm proved that any cube can be solved in 20 moves or less, henceforth making 20 known as God’s Number.
So obviously, there are many ways to finish a cube. But, how fast would a robot, explicitly programmed by humans, finish a cube in comparison to the human makers. Well, when Mike Dobson and David Gilday teamed up to make the Cubestormer II, they showed machines expertise in this area. Powered by a Samsung Galaxy S2, the Cubestormer II sent instructions to a Lego Mindstorms from a custom app. They narrowly beat the record with the time of 5.27 seconds. Once they were done, all they could do was make it better.
And they did. Recently, Mike and David made the Cubestormer III, this time powered by a Galaxy S4, and an updated version of Mindstorms. As expected, the Cubestormer III again beat the record, and by a substantial margin too. In a video the creators made, it proves that the Cubestormer III got a astonishing time of 3.253 seconds. Here’s the video so you can see it for yourself:
These robots are amazing, and there is no doubt that sooner or later, most if not all record will be broken by them. As shown by the Cubestormers, robots are just physically and internally more capable of handling more than flesh and bone humans. Oh well.