Robot wars: Highgate School teams forced to battle each other to get through to national finals

Two teams of pupils from the same Highgate school are through to the nationals of a robotics competition after they were forced to face off against each other at the regional finals.

The teams, Error 404 and System 32, made up of boys from Highgate School, in North Road, built their own robot in an after-school club to battle against eight other schools at a regional contest, hosted by the Highgate secondary school.

Teams had to use their robots to lift and move blue or red balls into tubes, onto ledges and into different coloured areas of the arena to score points at the regional heat of the second Vex Robotics Competition.

The more impressive the feat, the more points are scored. Despite the two Highgate teams having to take each other on in the finals, both got through to the national stage of the competition, to be held in Birmingham in March.

Andrew Thomson, director of design technology and engineering, who this year put robotics on the school’s curriculum, said: “They have worked so hard and invested so much time into their robots. We know it is not all about the winning, but I have to say it makes the experience so much better.

“Getting through to the national championships is fantastic and a real achievement. Both teams are already redesigning, modifying and reprogramming.

“I think the national championships are going to be tough, but we stand as good a chance as any others, so hopefully, with fingers and wires crossed, we could win and get through to the internationals in America.”

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The teams that qualified for the regional quarter-finals had to choose from the other qualifying teams to be their “alliance,” as each two-minute match requires four teams.

Year 12 team System 32, ranked 4th before the quarter-finals, and Year 11 Error 404, ranked 11th, were both chosen by the second and third placed teams.

Both sailed through to the final best-of-three match, where Error 404 and its alliance Virus scored the winning points in the last 20 seconds of the final game.

But the result didn’t spell the end of System 32’s competition run because they were put through to the nationals on points scored and matches won. System 32 team member Omar Hussein, 17, of Erskine Hill, in Hampstead Garden Suburb, said he got involved with the contest because he has always “loved making things”.

The team built its robot in two months at after-school sessions but Error 404 had to finish theirs in just four weeks after the team splintered off from System 32.

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