Rubik's Cube World Record Smashed by MIT Reseachers Using Playstation Cameras

The world record for solving a Rubik’s Cube has just been halved thanks to a robot invention created by two researchers.

Ben Katz, an MIT student, and his partner Jared Di Carlo decided a better build quality of the solving machine would lead to faster finishing times. Their invention was able to solve the 1980s puzzle phenomenon in just .38 seconds. The previous record—which was held by German Albert Beer’s Sub1 Reloaded robot—completed the cube in .637 seconds.

In a blog post, Di Carlo revealed the team expected to break a lot more Rubik’s Cubes than they did.

“We used the cheapest cube we could find on Amazon Prime because we thought we’d end up destroying many of them, but somehow ended up only going through 4 cubes and 100’s of solves,” Di Carlo said.

“We noticed that all of the fast Rubik’s Cube solvers were using stepper motors and thought that we could do better if we used better motors. So we did. Our solve time of .38 seconds includes acquiring the image from the webcam, detecting colors, finding a solution, and actually rotating the faces of the cube.”

Rubik's Cube Two US researchers have invented a device that can solve a Rubik's Cube in just .38 seconds. PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images

The invention used two PlayStation 3 Eye cameras to identify the puzzle and software “builds a description of the cube”. The Rubik’s Cubes cost $4.55 and the PlayStation cameras cost $7.

Katz wrote on his blog that the invention could one day beat its own record. “The machine can definitely go faster,” Katz said. “But the tuning process is really time consuming since the debugging needs to be done with the high-speed camera, and the mistakes often break the cube.

“For the time being, Jared and I have both lost interest in playing the tuning game. But we might come back to it eventually and shave off another 100 milliseconds or so.”

Each turn of the cube took the motors roughly 10 milliseconds to complete. Video was also published by the pair of unsuccessful trials. Once slowed down to .03 times regular speed, the Rubik’s Cube can be seen shattering.