Rubik's Cube solved in less than a second...by a robot, of course

A talented machine lays claim to a new world record for solving a scrambled Rubik's Cube, and it's a wonder to behold.

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
2 min read
Sub1 machine
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Sub1 machine

Sub1 can unscramble a Rubik's Cube way faster than any human can.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Sometimes you watch Olympic events like swimming and think to yourself, There's no way those athletes could shave any more fractions of a second off that world-record time! And then they do. That's what it feels like to watch the battle between Rubik's Cube-solving machines.

Sub1, a robot whose sole purpose in life is to solve the puzzle game faster than any machine before it, successfully unscrambled a Rubik's Cube in a fraction of a second.

It didn't take long to break the previous mark of 1.196 seconds, set by a team in January. That same team also claimed a successful attempt of 0.9-seconds, on February 5. Sub1 squeaks in under that mark at 0.887 seconds. The robot made the attempt in late January and the video detailing the feat was published last week.

The video description includes some delightfully nerdy lines, like "Prior to the world record attempt, a WCA-conform modified speed cube was scrambled with a computer generated random array and positioned in the robot."

It took several hundred hours to build and program the robot. The robot's creator says the world record claim has been submitted to Guinness World Records for investigation and approval. That could make Sub1 the first robot to be officially recognized as having solved a Rubik's Cube in less than a second.

Let's compare the robots' times to human times. Last fall, a teen set a new record by solving the cube in 4.904 seconds. That's crazy-fast for a person, but as far as Sub1 and its brethren are concerned, it looks like the work of a snail.

This won't be the last word in robotic Rubik's Cube athletics. We can look forward to the machines continuing their speed race until it's physically impossible to shave off more time.

(Via Popular Mechanics)