In today's Robot News, "CubeStormer 3" has set a new world record for solving a Rubik's Cube—just 3.253 seconds. This is a field known as "speedcubing," and the human record is just over 5.5 seconds. I, for one, welcome our new robot speedcubing overlords.
CubeStormer 3 breaks the old world record held by—wait for it—CubeStormer 2, which took 5.27 seconds to solve a randomized cube. Here's video; the action starts about nine seconds in, and it goes very quickly, of course.
And here's an overhead look at the process with less hype at the beginning and end:
The CubeStormer systems use LEGO Mindstorms robotics controlled by smartphones to manipulate the cubes. (The phones use cameras to observe the layout of the cube, then figure out the next move, and command the LEGO robot arms to do it.) It's easier to see what's going on by looking at the slightly slower CubeStormer 2, shown here:
And if you've got time, parts, and patience aplenty, here's a time-lapse video showing the creation of a (non-CubeStormer) LEGO speedcubing machine: