This worked just fine for Connor, who says he wrote his own program using the C++ computer programming language to get the OPTIQTM solver to work with his system. Connor's robot, like Benedettelli's, uses a Web camera to read the Cube's different colors (and their configuration on the scrambled Cube), data that is then sent to the puzzle-solving software.
Cube enthusiasts have been building robots for years to solve the puzzle, and it is common for them to learn from one another's work. One of the earliest examples of a Rubik's Cube-solving bot was created by Jonathan Brown, 45, an archaeological conservator at Chicago's Field Museum, in 2001 using an earlier version of Mindstorm.
Although Connor benefited from the work of several other Cube enthusiasts as well, his programming abilities have raised eyebrows. Connor "was quite evidently a masterful C++ programmer," says Robert Thompson, a 19-year-old University of Delaware sophomore studying computer science who taught Connor about Java during a weeklong computer camp earlier this month. "He started right off talking about things in C++ that they haven't even covered in my college courses."
How did Connor's robot do in its showdown against Ryan? Despite Connor's hard work, the bot's best time was 90 seconds, good enough to beat Ryan only once out of five times. Ryan's best time during the head-to-circuit competitions was 75 seconds, although Connor says his brother has since trimmed that to 45 seconds. (A video of the robot's victory is available via YouTube, as is a video of Ryan's revenge.)
Connor, who taught himself to program by reading books such as Sams Teach Yourself C in 21 Days, written by Bradley Jones and Peter Aitken, is hardly discouraged. He is now writing his own Cube-solving software to eventually replace Kociemba's in his system. The reason "I want to use my algorithm instead of somebody else's is because of it's complexity," he says, "and being able to say that I wrote a version of it."