Ever wonder what it's like for a novice micromouse robot builder to compete in Japan?
Yukimi Hayafune, an intelligent young woman with a day-job supporting the accomplished robot builders at RT Corp in Japan, wanted to try robot construction and competition for herself. After assembling and testing a Pico Classic micromouse robot, she entered three major competitions here, starting with the Chubu Area Micromouse Beginner's Contest in September. She has another major competition scheduled for October, and then plans to try her luck at the All Japan Micromouse competition held in Tsukuba towards the end of November.
Hayafune-san was kind enough to share her experiences, along with a video, in the report below.
Ms. Hayafune and her micromouse robot
Chubu Area Micromouse Beginner’s Contest 2011
By Yukimi Hayafune - RT Corp
While heavy rain hit and strong winds blew outside from the devastating typhoon No.12, the beginner’s micromouse robot contest was excitingly held at Nagoya Kogakuin College. The room was filled with young and old micromouse enthusiasts, along with a few stressed-looking beginners.
Although, the contest was mainly targeted at micromouse beginners, there were four other contests in addition to themicromouse classic contest to liven up the whole event: the micromouse circuit contest, the robo sprinT, the line trace robot contest, and the half-size Micromouse contest.
Right after the opening ceremony, the beginner’s contest began. The chairman clearly reviewed the rules for the Classic Micromouse contest. Each contestant has 10 minutes during which they can run their micromouse on the maze five times, searching the maze at first and then trying to achieve the fastest run to the goal. The fastest time is declared the winner.
Out of the 8 entries, I was listed to start 6th. My goal was to search the maze successfully at least one time and then run the searched course in the fastest running mode. By the way, there are usually several possible ways to get to the goal from the start position. The micromouse must find the shortest route to the goal to achieve the best times. Usually, it takes a few search runs for the micromouse to find the shortest path.
My turn came. I switched on my micromouse and set it to the one-way search mode, which would only take one search run to the goal.
Usually, when searching the maze, the micromouse takes two-ways to find the shortest path: one way is to reach the goal initially and the other way is to search a different path on its return to the start point. This counts as one run out of the limited number of runs allowed. In this way, contestants can save run counts.
I pressed the “go” button and then, my micromouse slowly left the starting point with the familiar noise of its stepper motors. I prayed for my micromouse not to slip, hit the wall, or lose steps. While all the participants were staring at my micromouse, and while I was anxiously watching my little buddy try to reach the goal, I had to explain the mechanisms, experience, and design of my micromouse and answer the chairman’s questions.
Finally, my micromouse successfully reached the goal! I set my micromouse to the fastest run mode and then started it. Its fastest run also succeeded. The goal time was 00:32:391 and I placed 5th out of the 7 robots that completed the micromouse maze. The winner’s time was 00:07:332.
By the time the whole contest was finished, the rain had stopped but the bicycle-speed typhoon was still around the Kinki area, next to the Chubu region. The participants looked content from their long, hard efforts, and hurried back to their own homes around the country.
(Via RT Corp - Japan.)