Sunday, July 14, 2024

New record: Fastest robot to solve a rotating puzzle cube

A team of engineers at Mitsubishi Electric Corporation set a new record for the fastest robot to solve a rotating puzzle cube. The robot completed the puzzle in an astonishing 0.305 seconds, showcasing remarkable speed and precision and securing its spot in the Guinness World Records. 

This achievement marks a significant advancement in robotics and demonstrates the potential for rapid problem-solving in various applications.

The Rubik’s Cube, created by Hungarian sculptor Erno Rubik in the 1970s, is the most renowned three-dimensional combination puzzle. The current world record for solving the puzzle is just over 3 seconds.

This record has garnered widespread attention over the years. Initially established at one minute and four seconds in 2009, it steadily decreased over time. Finally, in 2016, the record surpassed all expectations by breaking the one-second barrier.

The Japanese team has made history by breaking the previous record set by an American university, solving the puzzle cube in an astonishing 0.305 seconds, surpassing the previous record of 0.38 seconds.

Beginning work on a prototype in September 2022, a team of five engineers based in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, utilized cutting-edge technologies originally developed for rapidly and precisely positioning wires in electric appliance motors, such as air conditioners and ventilating fans.

This breakthrough allowed the robot to rotate one of the cube’s six faces by 90 degrees in just 0.009 seconds, as reported by The Asahi Shimbun.

The leader of this record attempt was engineer Tokui from Mitsubishi Electric’s Motor & Generator Manufacturing Engineering Department at the Component Production Engineering Center. 

“So I checked the videos of the previous record holder, and I felt that the motor we have is better than theirs. So I was confident that we can beat them with speed. Shaving off time as much as possible was difficult, but it was fun at the same time. I never had issues with motivation through the project,” Tokui said.

Tokui emphasized that achieving a new record requires not only powerful motors but also a precisely coordinated set of components, as the real challenge lies in gaining milliseconds of speed.

The pursuit of a world record posed its own difficulties, as the team had only one hour to set a new benchmark.

The process of perfecting the machine encountered an unexpected hurdle: the puzzle cube couldn’t keep up with the robot’s speed, prompting the team to persist in refining the machine to avoid puzzle jams.

In its first try, the robot struggled to solve the puzzle cube, leading the team to invest about 20 minutes in recalibrating the machine. However, on the second attempt, the robot triumphed, setting a new personal best and surpassing the previous world record.

For Tokui, it was crucial to emphasize that reaching this milestone was a collective effort involving not only his team but also the support of numerous individuals within the company.