This 'Kansas Citian' Can Solve A Rubik's Cube In Just Over A Second | KCUR

This 'Kansas Citian' Can Solve A Rubik's Cube In Just Over A Second

Jan 27, 2016

A robot created by two Kansas City men could soon hold the world record time for solving a Rubik's cube.
Credit Jay Flatland / YouTube

Have you ever just given up on a Rubik’s Cube? That’s what Paul Rose did as a kid. 

“I was around for the original phase in the early ‘80s, and had a puzzle back then, and messed around with it, and put it down,” says Rose.

When his daughter got one, a few years ago though, Rose cracked the code, and he got pretty fast, for a mortal. He can tackle a scrambled Rubik’s Cube in about a minute and a half. 

Now Rose and another enterprising Kansas City programmer have built the world’s fastest Rubik’s Cube-solving robot.

Rose is a software developer at Tradebot Systems a financial trading firm in Kansas City. Earlier this year, Rose and his work buddy Jay Flatland saw a video showing what was at the time the fastest Rubik’s Cube solving machine. “Cubestormer 3” can unscramble a Rubik’s Cube in a little over three seconds — and it’s made of Legos.

“We just thought, 'hey, if you can do that with Legos, it’s got to be possible to do it better,'” says Rose.

And, as it happened, Flatland had a new toy.

“I’d just bought a 3D printer,” says Flatland.  “And I was looking for some way to use it.”

Rose and Flatland engineered their own parts and built them with the 3D printer. It took them most of 2015, working — they swear — just in their free time, not on the clock. Well, maybe they discussed the project over morning coffee at work.

They call their machine "High Frequency Twister," an homage to both Midwestern tornadoes, and the high frequency trading programs they use at work. It can sort out a scrambled Rubik’s cube in just over a second, as you can see in this video.

Rose and Flatland’s gizmo should be plenty fast to shatter the old world record, as long as it works when the official judge from Guinness is in Kansas City from New York a week from Friday.  

Flatland says solving the cube is the easy part. It takes their cameras and computer about a 1/20 of a second to figure out what to do. The holdup is entirely with the physical manipulation of the cube. 

They say the best “human speed solvers” actually twist the block almost as fast at their robot does, it’s just that humans can’t figure the whole problem out in advance, so they have to make more moves than a robot does. 

Will Wooden, a 12-year-old from Kansas City, is fast — watch him tackle a Rubik’s Cube in 24 seconds.

The fastest known “human speed solver," Lucas Etter, a 14-year-old from Kentucky, can do it in under five seconds.