DroneClash is a drone fighting event organized by TU Delft. There are eight Dutch and international teams participating in the competition and two of them come from the University of Twente: Aerobotic Tech Team Twente (A3T) and Laced Horns. Together with a few hundred other visitors, U-Today is inside the hangar, where the event is held, to see if one of the UT teams will take home the main prize of €30.000.
Droneclash: how does it work?
The goal of DroneClash is to battle other teams, and earn points while doing it. Each team is allowed as many drones as they like, but they need to bring at least one Fighter drone and one Queen drone. The main idea is to bring down the rival Queens, while keeping their Queen in the air and flying Fighters through an obstacle course inside the battle arena. The competition will have several stages and two to four teams have to battle each other in the same match.
The games begin in the Battle-1st Arena, where the Fighter drones battle. Most importantly, though, teams must travel to the 3-Queen Palace. Here each team has another drone, the Queen. Getting there isn’t that easy: between the Battle-1st Arena and the 3-Queen Palace lies the treacherous Hallway of Doom Death and Destruction and only the best drones make it through.
What is the latest news?
17:20 UT team Laced Horns won the first ever DroneClash! In the intense and close finale battle, the Dutch team defeated their opponents from Germany and they are taking home the grand prize of €30,000.
16:19 Laced Horns are preparing to fight the finale battle. They will compete against the German team Dipol. 'Still feeling confident. I think we have a 60:40 chance of winning,' says Laced Horns team captain Geert Folkertsma.
15:26 Official results of the finished matches have not been announced to the crowd yet, but after talking to the UT teams we learnt that A3T is out of the competition and will not be competing in the final battle. Laced Horns, on the other hand, believe they are among the top two teams and have a 50/50 of winning the main prize here at DroneClash. They should fight in the deciding battle in about an hour.
14:45 Members of A3T are getting ready for their round in the semi-finals in which they are fighting a team from Delft. Pilots take their place inside the arena, each one accompanied by a judge who watches everything the pilots do and assign points accordingly.
The match begins. The Fighters swiftly fly into the Queen zone, but crash into the ground. One of them is A3T's drone and when it rises from the floor again, we can see that it has a loose battery hanging from its bottom side. It uses it to its advantage, though, and attacks the opponent's Queen with the battery. The Queen falls down and the match is over. Teams go collect the remains of their drones and the judges huddle together to discuss the fight and choose a winner, which will be announced later.
The Queen zone of the battle arena
14:16 'Let's see if we can get some fire in here,' says the Laced Horns team right before they start their turn in the semi-finals. Then they disappear in the depths of the battle arena, which is surrounded by seats for visitors and TV screens for those, who are too far back.
The countdown begins. It strikes zero and the Fighter drones are off, quickly leaving the Fighter zone on the left side. The drones enter the Passage of Doom, filled with smoke and bright lights that are meant to blind the pilots.
The viewers' attention now turns to the right side of the battle area - the area dedicated to the Queens and the place where the main fight happens. A flame throwing drone is awaiting Laced Horns, so expectations are high. Sadly (or luckily for Laced Horns), this fire throwing drone soon collapses onto the ground. Another drone is frantically flying around, but the rest seems to have gotten lost in the Passage of Doom. The entire fight is over within seconds. It is unclear which team actually won, but Laced Horns soon emerge with smiles on their faces, so we assume it was the UT team that took the victory. Official results aren't known yet.
The viewers' area in front of the battle arena
13:40 Smoke is settling down in the battle arena inside the hangar. Teams are taking a short break after the initial drone fights, most of them standing in line at the food truck.
Both UT teams have successfully survived the first round of battles and will be competing in the semi-finals, which should begin shortly. 'We managed to hit our opponent's Queen drone and, yet, we still didn't reveal our trick,' says Gabriel Damian from the A3T team, which has a surprise prepared for their competitors.
The second UT team, Laced Horns, is also safely moving on in the competition. 'We won the first round. It was quite easy,' says Laced Horns team member Tjerk Verbaaken, who is confident about the next round. 'We know who we are up against and we think it is quite an easy target.' His colleague Geert Folkertsma is slightly more worried. 'There is a team that uses hacking as their strategy. I'm confident about our flying abilities, but there is nothing we can do about hacking.'
The area for demonstration of various drones
DroneClash began this morning in Hangaar 2 at a former navy base in Katwijk. The drone fights take place inside a secured space, separated from the crowd by thick plastic and railing. The battle arena consists of three parts: on the left side you can find the Fighter zone, a room leading to a narrow corridor called 'Passage of Doom', which isn't clearly visible for the viewers. On the right side, you can find a slightly smaller room dedicated to the Queen drones. All fights can be watched from the seating area or through TV screens.
Besides the battle arena, visitors can enjoy demonstration of drones in the open space of the hangar, where a Drone expo is also held.