And you thought that Lego castle you built as a kid was impressive. Two engineers in England have set the world record for completing a Rubik's Cube with a robot made from the ubiquitous plastic blocks. The (somewhat) cleverly named Cubestormer 3 robot accomplished the impressive feat in just 3.253 seconds — about 38 percent faster than the previous world record, which was held by the second-generation version of the robot. That time also destroyed the current human record, set by the Dutchman Mats Valk, who set a 5.55 second time last year.
Of course, it takes a bit more than some Lego bricks to come up with that kind of time. The robot itself uses motors, actuators, and arms from a handful of Lego Mindstorm sets, while a custom-made Android app running on a Samsung Galaxy S4 does the analysis and sends the controls to the unit. It also takes quite a bit of work: the two engineers behind the project, David Gilday (who works for ARM) and Mike Dobson, completed the project during their free time over an 18-month period.
The most difficult part of bringing it all together, according to a published statement by Gilday, was fine-tuning the communication between the smartphone and the motors. It's one thing to design software that can solve the Rubik's cube, but it's quite another to perfectly time the commands for optimum speed without jamming the Rubik's cube or breaking the machine. What's next for the geeky pair? Beating their own record once again, of course. As one of the engineers said, "Our big challenge now is working out if it’s possible to make it go even faster."