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.
The July issue of ROBOCON Magazine hit the news stands yesterday and we were very pleased to see that it featured several articles near and dear to our hearts.
In addition to all the great, and always detailed, technical and event content that ROBOCON is known for, this issue included major articles covering RoboGames 2011, the Robot Japan First event, and Taylor Veltrop's master/slave robot control implementation using the Microsoft Kinect device.
The micromouse competition requires that the robot search a 16x16 maze grid, find the shortest path, then do speed runs to determine its fastest time.
At RoboGames 2011, the PiCo Classic micromouse robot, entered by RT Corp (Japan) turned in consistent 20 second run times to capture the Gold Medal.
The 8th annual RoboGames attracts teams from around the world to compete in 60 different events - from dancing androids to fire-breathing combat robots and autonomous cars to soccer playing droids.
The San Francisco Bay Area has long been a rich playground where hard working cogs in the startup machine wrestle valiantly in their cubicles with the coding questions of the ages. 51 weeks out of the year, it's humdrum workday solving the world's technology problems.
And then there's week 52 - RoboGames week...
Speed, precision, control, and memory size turned out to be the key parameters for the 2010 All Japan Robotracer robot competition. The first three parameters weren't a big surprise. The competition rewards designs that push the limits of speed while being able to maneuver the course without error or the slightest drift. The fourth parameter, memory size, was a surprise to many competitors however. This year's Robotracer robot final course included so many features that several of the competitors ran out of feature memory before they could safely complete their runs.
Here's what one of the successful competitors looked like:
Unlike the Micromouse robot competitions, the Robotracer rules specifically disallow the use of any suction mechanism, like venturi fans, that would increase ground contact force and traction.
There have been a lot of attempts over the past 5 years, or so, to design a micromouse robot equipped with a venturi fan. The basic idea is to use the fan's suction to sustain wheel traction at the high speeds achieved by the top robots. Even David Otten from MIT attempted it with very limited success.
Finally at the All Japan Micromouse Robot 2010 competition this November we saw a fan equipped robot turn in competitive speed run times. Although it didn't win the championship, at least not this time around, the Micesweeper robot did capture 4th place with a speed run officially clocked at 4.942 seconds. According the designer's analysis, the robot achieved a speed on the straight runs of 3.0 m/sec, did 90 & 45 degree turns at 1.8 m/sec, made 180 degree u-turns at 1.6 m/sec, and accelerated at 9.8m/ss. Very cool.
Of course you can't rest on your laurels. Now he's tuning up and refining the design.
Fan traction demonstration:
December speed run: