TechFest Competitions (including UK Micromouse)
The competition rules
Techfest competitions are open to everyone. There are categories for schools, juniors and seniors, with the competitions ranging from the simpler line-following type through to high-speed maze solvers. Beginners often prefer to start with the drag-race or line-follower, moving on to the more advanced competitions as their skills develop.
Trophies are awarded for beginners through to experienced mouse handlers in schools, university, industry and private entry categories. The large brass 'cheese' presented to the winner of the UK Micromouse competition is a highly sought-after prize!
The competitions are:
- The UK Micromouse Competition: Maze Solver
This is the blue Riband event. The micromouse must travel from a start square to a destination square without receiving any outside help. Each micromouse is allowed a maximum of 10 minutes to perform and is given a score time that takes the ‘run time’ of the mouse plus any search and touch penalties.
- The Mice
The design and construction of the robot mice can be as simple as a couple of motors and a switch (or a Lego Mindstorms kit with light and touch sensors) or as complex as a vision guided chassis with DC motors controlled by a Digital Signal Processing chip.
- Wall follower
This is a simpler contest than the maze solver competition. The walls are arranged so that a mouse following the left hand wall will eventually reach the goal at the centre of the maze. Wall following mice either sense the position of the walls by making contact or sense the position of the walls without making contact with them.
- Time trials
The aim is to test the speed, acceleration, cornering and directional control of 'mice' on a known course, under ideal conditions, and to complete the circuit in the fastest time possible. Wall followers and Maze Solvers are both able to compete in this event.
- Drag Race
The aim of this event is for the robot to travel as fast as possible over a straight course rather like that used for full-size drag racing, then to come to a standstill before reaching the end wall. Two robots will race against each other in a knockout competition where the first robot across the line (allowing for time penalties) in the final will be classed as the winner. The timed run begins when the starting light changes to GREEN and finishes when the robot crosses the finishing line. The handler must start the run at this point (push-button or other means). Both robots will be timed independently.
- Line Follower
In the Line Follower competition there are no walls - just a white line that the mouse must follow. The mouse must negotiate a racetrack made up of straight lines and arcs.
Two robots fight it out in the Sumo ring ("Dohyo"). The aim is for one robot to push the other out of the ring.
The Micromouse Online forum is a great way for competitors to exchange ideas, post photos and ask questions on a wide range of topics.
Or local builders might like to attend the Midlands Micromouse and Robotics Club at the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment at Millennium Point, Birmingham.
Club meetings are normally first Monday of the month (but can jitter occasionally by a week or so), with access to mazes, a project lab, and a presentation room with data projector.