What a busy day! The 2012 Techfest event held by Birmingham City University at Millennium Point, on June 16th was packed with robotic activity. There was something for everyone with events including mini-sumo, ant-weight robot wars, line following, drag races, wall followers and micromouse.

In a slight change from previous years, the event was held upstairs in the exhibition area with all the events except the micromouse in the same space along with the competitor’s pits area. This brought a whole new buzz to proceedings. The range of events and competitors along with the trade exhibitions and demos  meant that there was always something going on throughout the day. My focus was, of course, on the micromouse but I still had time to wish I was entered in the line following contest.

UK Techfest 2012 micromouse contest

With my mouse still suffering from another substantial rebuild of the software and some hardware changes still needing a bit of work, I didn’t enjoy the success I had envisaged and was so wrapped up in getting things working that I didn’t get time to take pictures. Consequently, the images here are attributed to those who did take the trouble to take them. Many thanks to those who helped out with pictures for me.

Let’s get going with some results:

First the Wall Follower Junior contest:

FlashyStephen Pithouse36.39
ScamperJosie Godfrey44.57
CheesyThabooja Sathiapal46.74
MousekateerSarah Abrahams52.18

And then the Wall Follower Senior contest:

CheddarbytePeter Waller42.95
MusoBernard Grabowski43.16
LeftyKen Hewitt68.66
E-Rat-TicDavid Hannaford86.24
KittyMartin Barratt119.26

It looks like the Junior entrants could teach their seniors a thing or two.

There was a senior line-following event in the main events area as well with the top place decided by only a couple of tenths of a second:

Millennium 3David Otten16.39 sec
Herbie-JuniorSteven Wray16.57 sec
QuickstepTony Wilcox26.92 sec
AvaBernard Grabowski29.09 sec
DashedDuncan Louttit37.44 sec
NoseyDavid Hannaford46.93 sec
LinusMartin Barratt50.17 sec
MiniDavid Hannaford34.44 sec + 4 touches

The maze solvers also had a busy day. These are the senior results:

Fat CatTim Foden19.27
Mitee 13David Otten23.55
Mouse X2Derek Hall23.77
Mouse XDerek Hall28.5
PicOne TurboJim Chidley33.52
Isambard IIMartin Barratt45.46
Decimus 2CPeter Harrison148.5
PicOneJim Chidley199.85
KaasjagerCoen Roos360.28

I don’t think anyone was surprised to see Tim Foden’s Fat Cat do well. Every time we have seen his mouse recently, it has made great progress. It is not yet clear how much further improvement is available in that chassis but I certainly look forward to seeing what he can do with a low, sleek, design. My own efforts were less than stellar and Decimus 2C failed repeatedly to negotiate the same critical corner after a long run meaning that a speed run never happened. For the life of me I can’t remember what happened to Derek Hall’s FAB1 but I presume it failed to find the centre. Not to worry though, MouseX and MouseX2 managed to do their customary fine job. David Otten, visiting from the USA, ran MITEE13 which never looked anything less than tidy. A reltively long search penalty, caused by having to recover from a crash, reduced Dave’s overall score even though the actual run time was good. This was a shame since the table of fastest individual run times reveals MITEE13 to be the best performer in the maze by a fair margin. The subtleties of the UK scoring system sometimes produce surprising results:

Mitee 13David Otten9.67
Fat CatTim Foden13.32
Mouse X2derek hall14.34
Mouse Xderek hall14.54
PicOne TurboJim Chidley20.3
Isambard IIMartin Barratt37.83
Decimus 2CPeter Harrison122.51
PicOneJim Chidley174.75
KaasjagerCoen Roos317.75

We did get a number of students from Singapore again this year. Unfortunately, they had some difficulty with their mice and only one managed to get a score in the maze:

iDunnoZhengwei Lim (Trevor)33.22

The maze for the finals was interesting and, as in other recent contests, designed by Ken Hewitt:

UK Techfest micromouse finals maze 2012

There was one principal route. A smart mouse might have avoided the s-bends in the lower right corner by taking a slightly longer diagonal around them in exchange for a faster run. The only other route was substantially longer at 88 cells and was likely to be chosen only by a mouse that had put in a false wall on the main route. (The way through is hidden under the cell count top left) Unfortunately for me, both routes had a choke-point in the upper right corner which meant that a false wall there left the mouse with no other option but to start exploring again.

Various folk have contributed photos:

Derek Hall has a Flickr stream here.

David Hannaford sent me some pictures too:

UK Techfest 2012 Drag Race - David Hannaford
UK Techfest 2012 Ant Weight Robot Wars - David Hannaford
 UK Techfest 2012 - David Hannaford

As ever, we all owe a great debt to Tony Wilcox and his crew of volunteers and helpers who all made sure that the day happened and went without incident. Also, Birmingham City University who provided the facilities.


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Juing-Huei

    Wow, David won the first prize of line following robot. Hope that he can show us the robot this year in Taiwan.

  2. Vlada Soucek

    I’m not sure if I’v seen ‘decimus 4’ in that flickr stream, but the shiny silver motormount made me feel bad.

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