LEGO Robot Solves Any Rubik’s Cube In Less Than 12 Seconds (Video)

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lego robot cube stormer

The CubeStormer can solve the Rubik's cube in less than 12 seconds every time. And it looks like it could it be a StarGate. Prepare yourselves, humans!

Be warned my fellow humans, robots will not be satisfied until they defeat us in even the most trivial of contests. Cube Stormer is the latest creation from Mike Dobson, aka Robotics Solutions, and not only is it made entirely out of Legos, it can solve any 3x3x3 rubik’s cube in less than twelve seconds. Often it can finish in less than five! This thing looks badass and is incredible to watch. Check it out in the video below.

We’ve seen some impressive robots from the Lego Mindstorms community before, most notably the fully functional model of an ABB Flexpicker. Little did I know, however, that these Lego bots were out to solve the Rubik’s cube. Cube Stormer is just the latest and fastest of these robots, there are many others. Something else I didn’t know: 12 seconds isn’t even a world record for cube solving. The fastest human solved a randomized cube in around 7 seconds. Don’t believe me? We’ve got that video, too!


Still, if 12 seconds isn’t a world record, 2 seconds is. That’s the fastest we see a Cube Stormer solution in the video. The fastest human average time for five solves is around 10 seconds. I’m guessing that the Lego robot could defeat this time by a significant margin. What does this teach us? Robots are better than humans even when it comes to colossal wastes of time. Oh, and robots are becoming more advanced everyday, even amateur robotics are impressive now, yadda yadda yadda Singularity, Kurzweil, future!

Sorry. My mind needs a distraction after the psychological trauma that is watching one childhood toy (Legos) defeat another toy (Rubik’s cube) in a pitched battle. Maybe I’ll go work on a Sudoku. Lego robots haven’t attempted that yet, have they?

DAMMIT!

[screen capture: Robotic Solutions]

Discussion — 73 Responses

  • Michael G February 18, 2010 on 9:57 pm

    Not that impressed. Just another machine acting based on an algorithm that a human provided. It's a neat combination of various technologies but whatever. This tech singularity crap is hysterical to me, and an excellent example of the arrogance that permeates many scientific communities.

  • saurabh February 18, 2010 on 10:07 pm

    Aye, 100%. Call me when you have a general learning machine that can pick an arbitrary task and become ridiculously good at it, like a human can.

  • Rubin Safaya February 18, 2010 on 10:11 pm

    The Lego bot would have trouble defeating the human time because the heuristic capacity of the human brain makes us far better pattern recognition filters than any computer we have devised thus far. While a computer could be taught to solve the Rubik rapidly, if it were directly fed the information via simulation, having it learn the task from scratch how to first recognize a Rubik's cube with stereoscopic vision and then on observation, learning and visual stimuli and feedback alone be able to solve the puzzle… like this robot, as opposed to a direct simulation run inside the computer, and not be distracted by other stimuli or thought processes, it would be exceedingly difficult to beat humans in this regard.

  • falseProphet February 18, 2010 on 10:12 pm

    I won't have to call you, the machine will. Muahahaha!

  • MinhThaiRocks February 18, 2010 on 10:35 pm

    Fail. On both. Both the machine and the human studied the cube's position before manipulating it. Wake me up when the times start when the cube is first revealed.

  • Daniel February 18, 2010 on 10:38 pm

    The detractors are being total d*cks (there are innumerable small problems that have to be solved before this came together – not trivial, maybe not groundbreaking but not trivial). Awesome proof of concept .. Mike Dobson, rock on.

  • Joe February 18, 2010 on 10:46 pm

    First, didn't realize there was so much competition in solving Rubik's cubes with robots, but the suduko solving robot is neat too.

    Nice article, and puts a positive spin on your day compared to all the negative stuff you see everywhere.

  • Randy C February 18, 2010 on 10:53 pm

    The robot's time did start before it was able to study it. The first few seconds are used to take snapshots of the different sides. I'd like to see a human do that. The world record time for a human does not include the minutes they had to study the cube.

    This is an awesome design.

  • SomeGuyCalledJim February 18, 2010 on 11:04 pm

    Yea it might not be a general learning machine but you know what we don't need learning machines to make a burger and fries… and I would trust a robot to do it right. I was excited when ATM's first came out cause I didn't have to deal with dumb bank-tellers anymore and I'm excited to see what the future of robotics holds for us. So great job Mike Dobson, keep up the good work.

  • notadick February 18, 2010 on 11:21 pm

    Machine learning isn't the point of this exercise, but I would imagine that a computer could probably figure it out faster than the 6 or so years that it takes for a person to develop the required dexterity and cognitive capacity. If you want a fair fight, your computer has to have as substantial of a knowledge base.

    Plus, he built the freaking thing out of legos, this is just awesome.

  • David February 18, 2010 on 11:32 pm

    Actually, the machines time starts as soon as it starts to study the cube.

  • adriatic February 18, 2010 on 11:57 pm

    I don't see a happy girlfriend sitting next to the robot. Not much of a multitasker…

  • bjl February 18, 2010 on 11:59 pm

    Huh? he's being sarcastic

  • hal9000 February 19, 2010 on 12:23 am

    oh, dont worry. we wont ever evolve to that point. oh, i mean THEY wont ever evolve to that point. umm, forget i wrote anything here. nothing to see, move on.

  • Steve W February 19, 2010 on 1:13 am

    Talk about arrogance! I bet Michael G and saurabh couldn't program (or engineer) their way out of a paper bag. The amazing thing is that a human could build and program these things. I would be very proud of much less.

  • Alan Miller February 19, 2010 on 1:21 am

    The robot is pretty cool, but it's just the manipulation.

    I'll be impressed when they build one of these using Legos for the logic.

  • smarter than you February 19, 2010 on 2:11 am

    mike G u sound like that arrogant scientific community that your ranting about. Some guy builds this in his spare time he is not looking for a Nobel prize or a grant for this, he did it for fun. Stuff like this is inspires people and a rubik cube is widely known in many cultures. If you would stop trying to give yourself a rectal exam long enough to look around you, you would realize your the moron. Thank you.

  • Keith Kleiner February 19, 2010 on 7:40 am

    Don’t think so. It was on slashdot today…and the video has only been on youtube for a few days

  • Jonathon February 19, 2010 on 3:07 am

    Unfortunately the video appears to be in the proprietary Flash format and as such it is not available for all platforms. Please consider providing your videos in an open, unencumbered video format such as Ogg Theora or Dirac. Thanks.

  • saurabh February 19, 2010 on 3:36 am

    I can too program my way out of a paper bag! Once you explain the scenario more clearly… Am I trapped in the bag with a laptop? Is there some sort of bag-related API I can use?

    Anyway, to clarify: this is an impressive bit of engineering, not an impressive bit of machine intelligence. These algorithms are very well-known, anybody (yes, myself included) can implement them in code in a handful of hours.

  • Steve W February 19, 2010 on 3:37 am

    From the videos, I would guess that the Sudoku used only the Lego Mindstorms CPU, while the CubeStormer probably used the (Bluetooth-linked) computer. If you mean using a mechanical (ala Babbage) computer – I think that the Sudoku-bot would probably have to be much bigger than the CubeStormer, and the CubeStormer – well, I find it hard to imagine. But I would have found it hard to imagine what I have seen on this page…

  • Steve W February 19, 2010 on 3:46 am

    OK – I stipulate that you can program you way out of the paper bag. I think I can too (because I can do a cube by hand). But can you engineer your way out? I am somewhat experienced with Lego Mindstorms, but can't even imagine myself designing and implementing that cube manipulator. The Sudoku-solver is different – the hardware is easy to develop – but getting that code together (especially if it is all really in the NXT CPU) is awesome. Even keeping track of position and orientation while reading and writing the numbers is not trivial.

  • Mike February 19, 2010 on 4:49 am

    uh, isnt this a bit of a lie? the lego bot seems to solve nothing. the computer (beside it) scans all sides, calculates solution, and sends rotate commands to the lego bot.

    Computers that solve rubix cubes have been around for years.

    anyhows, grats on the fancy lego bot. i look forward to when the bot actually solves the cube on its own though!

  • JJ Olsen February 19, 2010 on 6:13 am

    Funny comments. Lots of people here seem a tad bit jealous that they didn't make this.

  • Jalg February 19, 2010 on 6:41 am

    I don't really believe either human or machine fast solvers can do anything but use one of the well-known solution recipes, so that in the end there's the same amount of thinking needed to do the solution. Anyhow, it's cool that people are building LHC-looking apparatuses or honing their Rubik's cube skills, thumbs up for you.

  • FSS February 19, 2010 on 7:09 am

    I saw this on Slashdot.org back in October 2009. This is five months old. Cool tech, though.

    • Keith Kleiner FSS February 19, 2010 on 3:40 am

      Don’t think so. It was on slashdot today…and the video has only been on youtube for a few days

  • Andy G February 19, 2010 on 10:36 am

    It's “Lego” not “Legos”

  • Dr. Bob February 19, 2010 on 10:41 am

    I don't have your phone number, but that is already here. It is just that people don't like to wait for the machine to become good, like they are willing to spend time on for their children.

  • L A T February 19, 2010 on 1:54 pm

    Detractors here are probably masters of arts or anthropologists with complete disregard of the feats of science or engineering.

  • Red Headed Stranger February 19, 2010 on 2:35 pm

    Legos. Legos. Legos. Legos. Legos. Legos. Legos. Please don't tell me what I can or cannot call things. I don't work for the company, although I do purchase things from them.

    As for the silly comment by Mike:

    Isn't this a bit of a lie? The human's hands seem to solve nothing. The human's eyes and brain (beside it) calculate and analyze the solution and sends rotate commands to the hands.

  • Gitesh Khodiyar February 19, 2010 on 3:45 pm

    I'm inspired to build a robot, programmed to build other robots in it's image (i.e. repeat). Throw it into a room with a few 1000 mindstorm kits and come back in a couple of hours. Self assembling blocks…

  • christopher February 19, 2010 on 11:06 pm

    ok honestly, we can see that everyone has their different views on this, and i agree with all of them in a small portion, but atleast the people that build stuff are doing something with their lives, if you had half the brain that alot of you clame you have you would apreciate these robots, congrats on the rubic-cube and sudoku solving robots.

  • CubeMaster! February 20, 2010 on 12:19 am

    Yeah, but can it put different colors in all the corners?! I can!

  • pharoah3d February 20, 2010 on 12:59 pm

    Uhm your talking rubbish, every video format generally has some issues of compatibility, there isn’t a universal format…yet. I think you'll find flash has a far greater spread across all platforms certainly more than any other format given that flash can now play just about any major video format on the planet and covers PC, MAC and Linux extremely well.

    I mean are you using an old BBC or have you just not bothered to install the flash player in which case good luck with video on the majority of the net?? Or is that what you do as your crusade go round complaining about flash…

    Ok sorry I think I'm being a little harsh there, it just grinds my goat when people who make stupid comments haven't researched properly, especially on one of the best research facilities ever invented, you may have heard about it, it's called “The Internet”.

    Get your facts straight before jumping in with stupid closed minded comments that are designed because it suit you and maybe a handful of other people. I could hit you with figures, but you know it’s true that’s why you ranted about it, you have a vendetta to fulfil – the I hate Flash club.

    So to try and turn this rant into something more constructive… If you want to promote something you think is better try being more positive about it. Talk about why it's a better format to use and how it could improve the views of it on the site, what about how many more people would be able to watch the video, but make sure it’s not cutting others off.

    If the benefits are indeed better people will start to use it, why? because you've put your case across and proved that it is indeed the better choice.

    Anyway that's my rant for the month used up.

    On the video man that is sooo awesome! Lego and Rubik’s together in harmony!

  • endway February 20, 2010 on 4:06 pm

    Rubix cube was difficult to solve unless I saw some videos
    http://vidboo.com/?sea=How+to+solve+a+rubix+cube

  • jimvonkas February 20, 2010 on 9:57 pm

    Nop – watch closely, when hand takes finished cube away from robot you can clearly see that the whole movie is produced backwards! Cube wiggles (settles) before hand touches it.

  • Andrew Harris February 21, 2010 on 12:57 am

    Does anybody know where the instructions to build the sudoku bot are?

  • greenday4life February 22, 2010 on 12:29 am

    that sudoku one looks so retarted it takes forever to scan it its like 2 stars a five year old can do it quicker than that thing :P

    • bogz greenday4life April 24, 2010 on 5:01 am

      I think you mean “retarded” there Skippy!

  • ucana422 February 23, 2010 on 3:03 am

    I can hardly get things out of their packages,…

  • GBCMaster February 23, 2010 on 10:13 am

    It's “LEGO bricks”. Not “Lego”. You should use it as an adjective, not as a substantive, as stated in TLC's policies.

  • Edu February 24, 2010 on 4:55 am

    these guys has no life…

  • Mohan P. February 25, 2010 on 3:37 am

    Right, I wonder how the state of the cube is recorded so quickly, that will definitely take some quick programing or circuitry. The high speed interface between the software on the laptop and the four mechanical actuators is what is cool in this.

  • Kam G February 25, 2010 on 6:08 pm

    From Wikipedia: “In 2007, Daniel Kunkle and Gene Cooperman used computer search methods to demonstrate that any 3×3×3 Rubik's Cube configuration can be solved in 26 moves or less. In 2008, Tomas Rokicki lowered that number to 22 moves.”

    So if your computer algorithm is pretty fast in finding the optimal solution, you just need a robot to perform about 3 moves per sec to beat the world record.

    • turtles_allthewaydown Kam G February 5, 2012 on 9:33 pm

      Good information. I think it’s pretty amazing they built this out of legos, but as far as AI goes, this isn’t any breakthrough. They programmed an algorithm, and the robot performed the algorithm. This is what it is good at, and they’re always better at this than humans.

      A robot that can juggle Rubik’s Cubes would actually be more impressive, from an AI viewpoint.

      Then one that can solve a Rubik’s cube without being told what the algorithm is to solve it, now that will be a scary/awesome day!

  • Michael February 28, 2010 on 9:22 am

    I think the fact that the mechanism for CubeStormer was made purely out of LEGO “toy” plastic building bricks is amazing! As Aaron observed, there are a number of other LEGO robots around that can solve the Rubik's cube. Recently two were demonstrated that have a sophisticated enough mechanism to allow them to solve the 4x4x4 and 5x5x5! Just search for “LEGO 5x5x5″ on YouTube :-)

    • Michael Michael April 25, 2010 on 6:20 pm

      and now there is even a LEGO 6x6x6 solver called MultiCuber and one that can solve four different sizes from 2x2x2 up to 5x5x5!

  • Brendon Hogsette March 20, 2010 on 8:35 am

    Our son is actually loco about lego in addition to star wars lego – many thanks for the data!

  • Brendon Hogsette March 20, 2010 on 4:35 am

    Our son is actually loco about lego in addition to star wars lego – many thanks for the data!

  • olly March 28, 2010 on 3:49 pm

    I should really be working on my legos site!

  • olly March 28, 2010 on 3:49 pm

    I should really be working on my legos site!

  • olly March 28, 2010 on 11:49 am

    I should really be working on my legos site!

  • Halconnen April 19, 2010 on 11:44 am

    It deserves mention that the 7.08 second world record is pure solving. He has time prior to that to actually look at the cube.

    The 12 second solve of the CubeStormer includes six rotations before it starts solving, since it does the ‘scanning’ of the cube on the timer. It still doesn’t quite reach the world-record level, but if you just count the pure solving time, it’s closer to 10 seconds.

    • Halconnen Halconnen April 19, 2010 on 11:46 am

      Erf, me being retarded. I meant the 10.75 second solve is closer to a nine second solve if you don’t count the scantime.

      Teaches me to doublecheck the video before shooting a quick comment. =_=

    • Halconnen Halconnen April 19, 2010 on 11:46 am

      Erf, me being retarded. I meant the 10.75 second solve is closer to a nine second solve if you don’t count the scantime.

      Teaches me to doublecheck the video before shooting a quick comment. =_=

  • Halconnen April 19, 2010 on 11:44 am

    It deserves mention that the 7.08 second world record is pure solving. He has time prior to that to actually look at the cube.

    The 12 second solve of the CubeStormer includes six rotations before it starts solving, since it does the ‘scanning’ of the cube on the timer. It still doesn’t quite reach the world-record level, but if you just count the pure solving time, it’s closer to 10 seconds.

  • Halconnen April 19, 2010 on 7:44 am

    It deserves mention that the 7.08 second world record is pure solving. He has time prior to that to actually look at the cube.

    The 12 second solve of the CubeStormer includes six rotations before it starts solving, since it does the ‘scanning’ of the cube on the timer. It still doesn’t quite reach the world-record level, but if you just count the pure solving time, it’s closer to 10 seconds.

    • Halconnen Halconnen April 19, 2010 on 7:46 am

      Erf, me being retarded. I meant the 10.75 second solve is closer to a nine second solve if you don’t count the scantime.

      Teaches me to doublecheck the video before shooting a quick comment. =_=

  • bogz April 24, 2010 on 9:01 am

    I think you mean “retarded” there Skippy!

  • bogz April 24, 2010 on 9:01 am

    I think you mean “retarded” there Skippy!

  • Michael April 25, 2010 on 10:20 pm

    and now there is even a LEGO 6x6x6 solver called MultiCuber and one that can solve four different sizes from 2x2x2 up to 5x5x5!

  • Michael April 25, 2010 on 10:20 pm

    and now there is even a LEGO 6x6x6 solver called MultiCuber and one that can solve four different sizes from 2x2x2 up to 5x5x5!

  • Terrence Clawson June 21, 2010 on 1:46 pm

    I hope that people dont just come to a decision to give this article a quick read…i highly encourage you readers to look at it thouroghly it is very useful and you will not find a greater write up anywhere

  • Terrence Clawson June 21, 2010 on 1:46 pm

    I hope that people dont just come to a decision to give this article a quick read…i highly encourage you readers to look at it thouroghly it is very useful and you will not find a greater write up anywhere

  • Terrence Clawson June 21, 2010 on 9:46 am

    I hope that people dont just come to a decision to give this article a quick read…i highly encourage you readers to look at it thouroghly it is very useful and you will not find a greater write up anywhere

  • Dodo November 22, 2010 on 1:50 pm

    wow

  • Sylvia Wilkins January 21, 2011 on 4:51 am

    TEN SECONDS FOR A RUBICS CUBE?! I thought it was 7.08 minutes when I read it– LOL. Oh well, never gonna happen for me. And as far as the robot, I am aware the computer is smarter than I am.

    -Sylvia
    Window Replacement

  • Dean Collins April 14, 2011 on 10:36 am

    not as fast but cooler as its the hardver version of the rubiks puzzle.

    http://blog.collins.net.pr/2011/04/android-robots-solving-impossible.html

  • The Poker Mechanic July 24, 2011 on 8:47 am

    Robots are not our competition. They are tools to be used as we see fit. We should be able to use them someday to do most of the things we do not want to do ourselves. Grocery shopping comes to mind. Robots will free us to do what we want to do.

  • Ivan Malagurski August 1, 2011 on 10:09 pm

    Perfecting the art of time wasting :) cool robot though…