Micromouse has to be the longest running, and perhaps least well known, robot competition. Micromouse robot builders tend to be almost obsessive about their chosen sport, often flying half way around the globe to test their designs against the best the world has to offer. It's not about the glory - very few papers and even fewer television networks ever mention the sport. It's not about the prize money - there isn't any. And, it's not about beating your competitors. Unlike other sports, Micromouse is all about beating yourself - improving your own personal performance. Like long distance running, it can be an extremely lonely sport requiring endless hours fine tuning arcane software algorithms, shaving fractions of a second off times, and developing new drive systems.
Several times a year the top Micromouse builders gather to compare notes, explain and share their research, and to see who can clock the fastest times. The next international event is MINOS 2012, scheduled for April 14-15th at Royal Holloway, University of London. MINOS always draws the leading Western micro mouse gurus including Peter Harrison - who has competed in competitions as far afield as Japan and Taiwan, David Otten - one of the leaders of the micromouse initiatives since it's inception, and others.
The two day event includes a full day of know-how packed presentations on all the aspects of micromouse and robot design including controllers, algorithms, chassis, sensors, motor control, and even LEGOs.
Competitions schedule for Sunday include wall following and full maze solving contests. Although the final plans haven't been announced yet, MINOS typically also features and encourages demonstrations by other robot enthusiasts groups that have included humanoid robot matches in the past.
David Otten's MITEE 11 micromouse robot competing at MINOS 2009:
David Otten and Peter Harrison talk about Kato-san's micromouse robot performance characteristics and design after the 30th All Japan Micromouse competition: