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Plugged In

Meet the best Rubik’s Cube player in the world: A robot

Plugged In

Last weekend, 350 of the world's fastest "speedcubers" gathered in Bangkok at the World Rubik's Cube Championship in hopes of setting a world record.

None did -- but even if they had, it would have been a tainted victory, as a robot invented by a pair of engineers just stole the crown.

The CubeStormer II, built from little more than LEGO Mindstorms and a Samsung Galaxy S II, managed to solve the famous brainteaser in 5.352 seconds, besting the admittedly impressive 5.66 second record set by Australian Feliks Zemdegs earlier this year.

Mike Dobson and David Gilday are the inventors of the CubeStormer, which uses the phone's camera to capture images of the cube's six sides and then figure out the fastest way to line up the colors.

Further asserting its robotic dominance, the CubeStomer's record setting pace included both analysis of the cube and the time it took to solve the puzzle. Humans are allowed to examine the cube first with no time assessment. The clock doesn't start ticking until they begin moving parts.

Technically, the record books don't acknowledge robotic achievements when compared to humans, probably because we humans still write those books (for now).  So the 350 speedcubers from around the world who showed up in Bangkok last weekend still had a chance to grab some glory.

Though no one set a new record, Poland's Michal Pleskowicz turned in a none-too-shabby performance, posting an average solving time of 8.65 seconds. American Rowe Hessler was first runner-up with an average solving time of 9.56 seconds.

Undoubtedly aware of the looming robotic threat, officials at the Cube Championship have also introduced several events that ensure a human victor, such as solving the puzzles with your feet or even blindfolded.

Denmark's Henrik Buus Aagaard shucked his shoes and was able to unscramble the cube with his feet in a freakish 43.05 seconds, while Australia's Zane Carney solved the entire puzzle blindfolded in 31.41 seconds.

Blindfold the CubeStormer II, however, and the machine will just sit there, confused. Apparently our robotic overlords have yet to figure that puzzle out.

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