November 28th, 2011
10:31 AM ET

LEGO + smartphone robot solves Rubik's cube in a flash

By John D. Sutter, CNN

File this in the "things machines do better than humans" category.

A robotic machine, controlled by an Android smartphone, claims it can solve a Rubik's cube faster than any human. Check out the video above for a proof of concept. It's pretty amazing to see.

More on how the contraption works from a post on YouTube:

The app uses the phone's camera to capture images of each face of the Rubik's Cube which it processes to determine the scrambled colours. The solution is found using an advanced two-phase algorithm, originally developed for Speedcuber, enhanced to be multi-threaded to make effective use of the smartphone's dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 1.2GHz processor. The software finds an efficient solution to the puzzle which is optimised specifically for the capabilities of the four-grip mechanism. The app communicates via Bluetooth with software running on the ARM microprocessors in the LEGO NXT Intelligent Bricks which controls the motors driving the robot. During the physical solve, the app uses OpenGL ES on the phone's ARM Mali-400 MP GPU to display a graphical version of the cube being solved in real time.

For comparison, here's a video of a super-fast human, who solves the puzzle in 5.66 seconds, compared to the "Cubestormer II's" 5.35 seconds:

Which do you think is more impressive? The time difference isn't much, so I'll have to side with the humans on this. Although I do think the robot is more fun to watch.

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Filed under: Tech • Video
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