For quite a few years some of the more 'niche' robot activities, like micromouse design and competition, have been in a quasi-dormant mode. Of course, there have been a few exceptions - hot spots like Japan and Singapore where micromouse competitions have sustained considerable interest and momentum for decades. But, outside of those two countries, micromouse robots have been generally viewed as being rather boring or old-hat.
Thankfully, that seems to be changing with a strong increase in micromouse activity in many countries around the world. For example, in a recent communication (see below), Tony Wilcox notes that the UK Micromouse 2007 and the 2007 Schools Micromouse competitions, scheduled for June 30th, have been expanded considerably and will feature bigger pits, practice mazes, two competition mazes - both equipped with electronic timing, an expert corner, and space for exhibitors to tout robot products and services. And, they have already received inquiries about participation from Singapore, Sri Lanka, and France, and expect active overseas participation.
Here's what Tony wrote:
UK Micromouse 2007 will be held on 30th June 2007 at Millennium Point, Birmingham.
The 2007 Schools Micromouse competition will be held on 30th June 2007 at Millennium Point, Birmingham.
YES!! ... both competitions at the same venue at the same time. This is going to be a big event! I believe that the last time the two competitions were held together was 1999 at Exeter.
ThinkTank, the new Birmingham science museum, is providing a suite of rooms for the Schools competition, that link directly to the Theatre that we will be using for UKMM2007. We will have bigger pits - and 2 of them, practice mazes, and two competition mazes with electronic timing on both. There will be a small exhibition space for companies to show their robotic wares, and an 'expert' corner where schools competitors in particular will be able to ask questions of the seasoned professionals.
We will have a large section reserved for refreshments, such that all competitors get a chance to mingle, exchange ideas, eat their (packed) lunch etc. in the same area. If possible, we would like to have one or two expert sessions during the lunch-break.
We are already receiving enquiries from overseas - Singapore, Sri Lanka, France - and we expect a good number more.
A virtual tour of the venue is available at the URL below - Reception, Event Suite, Theatre are three areas that we will be using, in addition to the large foyer for the Theatre and a small side room that are not listed on the virtual tour.
We will have more than twice the floor area that we had at UK Micromouse 2006 - the blue pillars on the images are on a 9m x 9m grid.
Virtual Tour http://www.ehouse.co.uk
Registration will open soon - see http://micromouse.tic.ac.uk
Any questions - visa letters, accomodation etc. - please contact firstname.lastname@example.org