Nine-tenths of a second! Blink and you missed it.
That’s how fast the rapidly spinning, softly clicking black robot built by two Olathe software developers solved a scrambled Rubik’s Cube on Friday, setting a Guinness World Record.
Jay Flatland and Paul Rose of Tradebot Systems high-fived as they shattered the existing machine-solving record of 2.39 seconds on their first attempt. A crowd of more than 100 onlookers erupted into cheers and applause as they saw the eye-popping time of 0.90 flicker on the computer screen.
“You gotta be kidding me,” said one. “Nobody goes under one second!”
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Michael Furnari of the Guinness organization officially certified the record and congratulated the pair as camera shutters clicked.
“So how does it feel to be a star?” one person asked Flatland.
Still stunned, he just shrugged.
“Really, I’m not that cool,” he said.
Oh but he was. They both were. After all, there are more than 43 quintillion possible combinations for solving a Rubik’s Cube.
As in human competitions, their robot uses a low-friction “speed cube” that is very forgiving if parts are not lined up perfectly. They also used an algorithm known as Kociemba to help the robot determine the best set of moves to solve the cube.
Flatland used a 3-D printer to make a special frame for the robot. The pair also used stepper motors to securely grip and turn the cube. Stepper motors apply energy in short, controlled bursts, allowing for quicker, more precise turns.
“I’m just extremely relieved,” Flatland said, looking at the collection of webcams, special motors and 3-D-printed parts. “This has been building up for a long time. There were some things we were worried about. … Fortunately we got the record right out of the gate. ”
After setting the record, a co-worker paid off on a promise. Will Bryson said that if anybody in the office set a world record he would give them $1,000. True to his word, he presented a check to Flatland and Rose, who promptly turned it over to the nonprofit group FIRST from Manchester, N.H. The group’s mission is to inspire students to pursue careers in math, science and technology.
That’s what Flatland and Rose wanted to do by setting the world record.
“It’s just the fact that some kids will see this and think it’s neat and then try to learn programming or engineering,” Flatland said. “I think that’s great.”