If the race car type micromouse robots do so well, who can possibly beat them? They have gyros, navigate their way through tricky maze diagonals, and come equipped with dual sets of sensors so they never have to waste time turning around. But, it is definitely possible to beat them.
Foreign robots do enter, and win, in Japan
Not only is it possible for a foreigner to win against the top Japanese micromouse designers, it has happened quite a few times in recent history. For years really exciting and highly competitive micromouse designs have been coming out of Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, the US, and especially Singapore. David Otten (Mr. Micromouse), for example, has flown over from MIT regularly to enter the All Japan Micromouse competitions, and won the contests twice against the best that Japan has to offer.
More recently, Ng Beng Kiat, a senior lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore, has consistently turned in amazing performances and walked away with the top prizes. His latest micromouse robot design, Min4, is really a thing of beauty in action. Here’s a series of frame grabs of Min4 turning a maze corner while initially exploring the maze at the 2004 All Japan Micromouse Contest finals-
The video was captured at 30 fps, and there are no missing frames. Min4 doesn’t even hesitate or slow down when it comes to a new intersection in the maze. Its ability to sense, analyze, and make decisions on the fly is extremely impressive – startling actually. Min4 is also capable of turning a complete 180 degrees as quickly as the 6 wheel robots take to reverse course, as you can see from this set of video frame grabs-
Both of these sequences were captured during Min4s search run. We tried using the same technique to analyze its performance during the speed runs, but it was just too fast! One frame (captured at 30 fps) would show Min4 headed in one direction, then in the next frame it had already reversed and was speeding away!
Min4’s winning time at the 2004 contest was a lightening fast 00:08:403 seconds. You can see both its search and winning speed runs via the Robot-Fan links below.
Min4 Winning Runs [Robot-Fan web page on Min4 – in Japanese]
Ng Beng Kiat's Web Page [English]