The various users of Lego Mindstorms have a system that, in principle,
allows communication with a host computer (the IR link). This raised some
judging questions at the Schools Competition. Presumably these same
questions apply for Micromouse though the problem has not been raised.
My point is: Should we remove the ban on umbilicals?
An umbilical connection makes software development easier. "Posh" mousers
can use the umbilical to see what the mouse thinks the maze looks like,
possibly for the edification of the audience.
A physical cable to the mouse would allow the power source to be left
behind with an obvious advantage in terms of mouse performance. However,
the effect of the cable drag would, in all probability, make the mouse
uncompetitive, especially if the handler is not allowed to hold the cable.
Without a cable the mouse must carry its own power source plus whatever
communication system is used.
With modern single-chip processors, all the resources necessary to solve
mazes are easily carried by the mouse, so there is no great advantage in
communicating with a big host computer.
The big benefit in removing the ban is that it may encourage some people
to have a go who would otherwise be put off.
I am contemplating a mouse with a radio link. If umbilicals remain banned
it will be simply a plug-in module that is removed before competition.
However, if umbilicals are permitted, it may be possible for the audience
to see what the mouse sees as it goes around.