How fast can you solve a Rubik's Cube? A few days? Minutes? How about less than 10 seconds?
That's what the Cubestormer 3 robot managed to do this weekend, solving the colourful puzzle in just 3.253 seconds.
The robot uses an ARM-powered Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone with an Exynos 5 Octa application processor and eight-core ARM big.LITTLE implementation featuring four ARM Cortex-A15 and four Cortex-A7 processors. The phone analyses the cube, calculates the correct sequence of moves and instructs four robotic hands to perform the manipulations. ARM9 processors also power the eight LEGO Mindstorm EV3 bricks that perform the motor sequencing and control.
The Cubestormer 3 was at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham on Saturday, trying to break its 2012 record of 5.27 seconds, and it succeeded handily, earning it a Guinness World Record for the fastest robot to solve a Rubik's Cube.
"We knew Cubestormer 3 had the potential to beat the existing record but with the robot performing physical operations quicker than the human eye can see there's always an element of risk," co-inventor David Gilday said in a statement. "In the end, the hours we spent perfecting the robot and ensuring its motor and intelligence functions were properly synchronised paid off. Our big challenge now is working out if it's possible to make it go even faster."
Gilday and Mike Dobson, a security systems engineer for Securi-Plex, spent about 18 months designing Cubestormer 3. It features upgraded mechanics, like a precision independent braking system to boost speed. It's also been optimised to take advantage of the increased mechanical flexibility as well as the compute power gains.
"The record-breaking attempt is a bit of fun for us," Gilday said. "Our real focus is to demonstrate what can be achieved with readily available technology to inspire young minds into taking a greater interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We're already seeing robot technology deployed widely in the manufacturing industry but there is now potential for robots to cope with disruption.”
He continued: “You can easily imagine a robot able to deal with minor surgical procedures or perhaps even a Michelin-starred robot chef? While the human brain is still far more powerful than any processor, it would be fantastic to see technology with real humankind benefits being created by someone inspired by seeing Cubestormer 3 in action."
In terms of human records, Recordholders.org says Mats Valk of the Netherlands currently holds the record, solving the cube in 5.5 seconds at the Zonhoven Open last year.