The 2014 Montreal regional final was one of controversy, utter jubilation, and eventual heartbreak. Sonic Howl was among the best scoring bots in the competition and a force to be reckoned with thanks to a crafty team who both built and powered the bot to the semi-final round.

The team had some questionable alliances in the qualification rounds but proved it could score. Though not highly ranked going into the alliance selection, its optimized scoring system made it one of the bots to have on your alliance for the finals. We were chosen fourth during the first round of alliance selection – confirming our bot was indeed quite awesome.

The quarterfinals began and so did the controversy. Our opponents sent one of their robots after Sonic Howl, which essentially cornered our ball for the entire match and aggressively tackled us to the point we became hooked onto another robot in our alliance. Our opponents ultimately won this match but were disqualified due to their unusual and illegal strategy – so Sonic Howl was back in the game, but the next match was in mere minutes and our robot was in need of emergency repairs.

In a manner that could only be described as one straight out of a scene from a hospital emergency room, we rushed our robot back to our pit, all but shoving innocent bystanders out of the way as we flew down the corridors. Continuing as if we were in the ER, our team or robot surgeons sprang into action, dismantling our bot to access the damaged component, unbolting, hammering, bashing, drilling, re-bolting and finally repairing such a small but important piece of our bot’s reinforcements for the pickup arm. Finishing repairs just as we were being called back on the field, we sent our patched-up patient back for the semifinals.

The team we were up against was favored to win, but we had a plan to disrupt them. We threw our plan into action, but they outmaneuvered us and won. Still full of enthusiasm, we were ready to take them on with yet another modified strategy in round two. As the match began, our autonomous code worked perfectly. But round two was suspended as there was a problem with the game field. The match was reset, we put our robot back in its starting position, drivers got in position, the starting bell rang and then our hearts immediately sank. Our robot was dead in the water, didn’t move during the autonomous phase and was completely unresponsive to input from the drive team’s controls.

As expected, with our robot out of commission, the match was lost and we were eliminated from the semifinals. After much investigation into the cause, it was determined that having our robot’s code being disrupted mid match and then reset caused an error, rendering it inoperable. Loosing due to a technical malfunction was a disappointing way for us to close the season, a rather tough pill for us to swallow.

But we look to 2015 with an even stronger desire to win the Montreal regional and dethrone the perpetual favorites. Hyperion and Tech 4 Kids – Sonic Howl is coming for you in 2015.

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