The student team A3T (Aerobotic Tech Team Twente) was one of the nine teams competing in DroneClash. They lost both of their two battles, ending up in the last place. The team’s co-founder Gabriel Damian walks us through the experience.
How was it to participate in DroneClash?
‘It was a lot of fun, for sure. We already participated in the first edition last year. It’s good that we were there from the beginning, so we could see the progress. It was a big improvement from last year, when our battles lasted only a few seconds. We were better prepared. But we got unlucky. I’d say that this is the type of competition where more money gives you a bigger chance of winning. While other teams could afford to have four or five spare drones, we couldn’t. If our drone crashes, we can’t easily switch it for a new one. So we finished last. That was a hard hit, because we worked really hard for it. But we will definitely participate again next year.’
What are the rules of DroneClash?
‘The main goal of the competition is to knock down your opponent’s Queen drone. In each battle you compete against one other team with several drones. Each team starts in their own arena and the goal is to get to the opponent’s arena. You have to fly the drone through a tunnel, there are obstacles and you should try to knock down the Queen drone, while controlling your Attackers and protecting your own Queen.’
What happened during your battles?
‘In the first battle we lost because of battery life. Although most of the teams in the competition are student teams, we were going against a professional drone racing team. They couldn’t catch our drone and basically ended up chasing us around the arena until our battery died. In the second battle we got really unlucky. Our Queen drone crashed immediately, and so the battle was over in a couple of seconds. That was pretty sad.’
Before the competition, you mentioned that you might try to use toilet paper to stop your rival’s drones. Did you do that?
‘Yes and it worked well during practice before the competition, but during the battle the toilet paper didn’t unroll. And so it didn’t work. That was very frustrating.’
What have you taken away from this? How can you improve your strategy for next year?
‘Already last year we used a special small drone as our Queen. It was “hidden” on top of a bigger drone and detached from it. This year most other teams did exactly the same, so that shows this is a good strategy. Now we saw that we need to have more backup drones, because our opponents simply outnumbered us. And we need an even stronger drone. This year’s winning team was just crashing into everything and that seemed to work well.’
How do you look back at the overall experience?
‘It was a big learning experience and a lot of fun. One of the teams were famous Youtubers from the US and we got to compete against them. That really made my day! We even got to destroy one of their drones. Overall, we are not too devastated over the results. We are still a young team. We are still learning.’