See a robot solve a Rubik's Cube ridiculously fast

An agile robot takes a Rubik's Cube from scrambled to solved in under half a second.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser

Don't blink. A robot built to solve the classic Rubik's Cube puzzle just put the hurt on the previous world-record time.

Guinness World Records currently lists a robot named Sub1 Reloaded as the record holder for solving a cube in 0.637 seconds in late 2016. A new robot, build by MIT robotics student Ben Katz and software developer Jared Di Carlo, accomplished the feat in a blazing 0.38 seconds, though it isn't an official record at this point.

 "Our solve time of 0.38 seconds includes acquiring the image from the webcam, detecting colors, finding a solution, and actually rotating the faces of the cube," says Di Carlo in a blog post. He says one of the secrets to beating the previous robot's best time was using better motors.

Katz gives a thorough rundown of what was involving in making the robot on his blog, just in case you want to try something like this for yourself. 

The machine is so fast not all the cubes survived the experiment. Katz posted a video called "Cubesplosion" showing one of the puzzles coming apart at the seams. It's highly entertaining. 

Fortunately, the cubes can usually pop back together. Di Carlo says the robot only ended up going through four cubes during its hundreds of solves.

For comparison, Patrick Ponce set the human Guinness World Record time for solving a Rubik's Cube in 2017 in a sparkling 4.69 seconds. That's way fast for a person, but slow as molasses to a robot.