More Info on the Micromouse and the Racecar

incredible sucker car

One of the things we really enjoy about publishing Robots Dreams is that our readers are extremely knowledgeable, passionate, and aren't afraid to tell us that we don't know what we are talking about.

Less than an hour after we wrote about the McLaren F1 race car using the same design approach as Momoco8, the vacuum assisted micromouse robot, Fred took us to task for overlooking the incredible Chaparral 2J:

"You kids don't know nuthin' In 1970 Chaparral introduced its most controversial car, the Chaparral 2J. This car had a separate engine to drive two fans that exhausted air from beneath the car to create suction down force." 

Sure enough, Fred was exactly right. For more information on this amazing race car design, and perhaps some ideas on how to adapt it for robot use, check out this detailed article.

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The Micromouse and the Race Car

mclaren f1

We were so impressed by the vacuum assisted performance of the Momoco8 micromouse robot that we had to check and see if the same design approach had ever been successfully applied to real life size race cars. It turns out that it had!

The McLaren F1, which held the record as the fastest street legal production car in the world from 1994 to 2005, was equipped with fans to decrease pressure under the car and increase down force and traction. From Wikipedia:

"The normal McLaren F1 features no wings to produce downforce, however the design of the underbody of the Mclaren F1 exploits ground effect to improve downforce which is increased through the use of two electric fans to further decrease the pressure under the car. A "high downforce mode" can be turned on and off by the driver." 

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All Japan Micromouse Robot Competition 2008: Momoco8 (Video)

momoco8 micromouse robot

The most innovative and interesting micromouse robot design we saw in action last weekend had to be Momoco8, designed by Shinichi Kome. In the video below you'll notice a sound that is very similar to a tiny vacuum cleaner - which is almost exactly what it is. Momoco8 uses a ducted fan to create a vacuum that provides great traction as the robot zips around the maze at high speed.

The video includes the two Momoco8 speed runs that we were able to capture, however, the robot did turn in an even faster run clocked at 7.104 seconds to finish in 6th place for the annual competition.


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All Japan Micromouse Robot Competition 2008 – Maze and Results

micromouse robot maze
  Expert Category - Final competition maze and successful paths 

David Otten, probably the most well known and dedicated micromouse competitor in the US, put together a report on the All Japan Micromouse 2008 competition last weekend. From David's report: 87 mice participated in the expert category while 102 mice participated in the separate freshman category.

Unofficial Results of the 2008 All Japan Expert Micromouse Contest*

Mouse Name Designer Country Time
MIN5 Ng Beng Kiat Singapore  6.433  
BR8 Yin Shiang Ting Singapore 6.531
Golden Mouse   Soh Yi Lang Singapore 6.707
Cool Y v3a Siew Peng Shorn  Singapore 6.928
Excel-5 William Tan Singapore 7.060
Momoco08 Shinichi Kome Japan 7.104
* Times are based on David's notes. Official results were not available at the time of posting. 

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Micromouse Tutorial Series Debuts (Video)

micromouse robot tutorial

As we were processing the photos and videos from last weekend's micromouse competition it occurred to us that many of our readers may not be familiar with the joys, and challenges, of designing a competitive micromouse robot. Luckily, with what turns out to be perfect timing, Martyn, a long time micromouse UK fanatic, has posted the first few episodes (see the Episode 1 video below) of what promises to be a very informative, educational, and hopefully inspirational series of micromouse tutorials.


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All Japan Micromouse Robot Competition 2008

Originally uploaded by Tempusmaster.

We had a great time yesterday at the All Japan Micromouse 2008 event. Highlights included half-size micromouse robots competing in a 32x32 maze (four times the normal number of maze cells), a new micromouse design gets traction by literally sucking itself to the maze floor, and blazing performance by the Singapore entries.

Our raw 2008 Japan Micromouse Robot photo set are up on Flickr. Videos, as usual, will take a little longer to post.

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Japanese Gamers Over the Top For Robots

super robot wars

What does it take for new game to knock Pokemon out of the top position? How about a strategy role-playing battle featuring Mobile Suit Gundam, Mazinger Z, and numerous other well-known robot anime characters?

Last week's roll-out of the new Super Robot Wars Z game here totally blew away the competition scoring sales of 366,000 copies in the first seven days it was on sale. It's closest competition, Pocket Monsters Platinum that came in with 195,000 units sold.

Namco Bandai, the company that developed Super Robot Wars Z, has been positioning itself to leverage it's huge catalog of robot characters with extremely large followings. The company has long been a key sponsor of robot events like ROBO-ONE and Micromouse. A little over two years ago, the company bought out game creator Banpresto.

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Micromouse in Japan – 29 Years and Still Going Strong


The 29th annual All Japan Micromouse Contest will be held November 21st-23rd at the Tsukuba International Congress Center in Ibaraki, Japan - about 40 minutes by express train from Tokyo. This premier robot competition draws the world's top micromouse builders from all over the world including Singapore, the US, Korea, and India. Concurrent contests are held for Freshman and Expert class micromouse, microclipper, and robotrace robots. Note: there have been some rule changes for the Robotrace contest this year.

The 2nd Real World Robot Challenge event will be staged simultaneously at the same venue location utilizing the close-by sidewalks and park area.

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Micromouse Maze Viewer/Editor Software Runs on Mac

Rob Probin with Lightsoft in the UK posted new micromouse maze viewer software  that runs on both Windows and MacOSX. The new software can edit the maze, view multiple mazes simultaneously, show the shortest route (or at least one of them), display cell counts, and is compatible with standard maze binary and text formats.

It's great to see this type of software developed for the Mac world as well as Windows users. Thanks Rob!

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