Engineers have been using robots to solve Rubik's Cubes for years. What was once thought to be a quick solve less than a decade ago - around 10 seconds - is laughable by today's standards. Allow me to illustrate.
Ben Katz and Jared Di Carlo recently crafted a machine capable of solving the 3D combination puzzle in a mere 0.38 seconds. Unlike some other attempts you may have seen, this isn't just the amount of time it takes for the contraption to physically implement a solution but also includes the time it takes for the system's cameras - two PlayStation Eye cameras - to scan the cube and the processor to work out the correct number of turns.
For reference, the current world record is 0.637 seconds... or I guess you could say, that was the record.
The first thought that crossed my mind when I saw the full-speed solve was that it was fake. But, as you'll see, the duo slowed down the footage using a high-speed camera to reveal all the moves that take place in that 0.38-second window. Very impressive.
Katz and Di Carlo say the contraption can definitely go faster but the tweaking process is really time-consuming and they've lost interest in doing so. If they revisit the project, there's a real possibility they could shave off another 100ms or so.
PS: Here's what happens when things don't go according to plan.