One year ago, we got super excited when a micromouse managed to negotiate a maze in under five seconds. At the 2011 All Japan Micromouse Robot Competition in Tsukuba, the micromouse pictured above shaved an entire second off of that time, completing the maze in a scant 3.921 seconds. That's fast.
This robot, called Min7.1, was designed by Ng Beng Kiat. It has a top speed of just over 12 kph, which is wicked quick for something that's 10 cm long and weighs only 90 grams. Of course, the micromouse has to figure out where it's going before it can put the hammer down and blaze through on its final run, which is why it first gets an autonomous exploration phase:
If we continue the trend, next year we'll have a three second robot, followed by a two second robot, and by 2016 or so, robots will be blowing through mazes before we even ask them to.