Drone team: ‘We will bring home a prize’

| Michaela Nesvarova

Aerobotic Tech Team Twente (A3T), the newest UT student team, has big plans for its first year of existence. This drone team will participate in three international competitions in 2019, including the UAS Challenge for which they plan to make ‘the first drone of its kind’.

A3T was officially recognized as a student team only a few weeks ago. With its 30 members, they have become the second biggest student team at the university. To manage the large number of people, the team is divided into three project groups, each preparing for one of the drone competitions lined up for next year.

The team will kick off its year at DroneClash, a drone fighting event planned to take place in February in the Netherlands. In March, they will compete in the autonomous drone racing challenge MAAXX in Bristol. And finally they are preparing for the UAS Challenge, a competition for university teams from all over the world. To succeed in this UK-based contest, the teams have to design and build a fully autonomous drone that could be deployed in humanitarian aid missions.

Fiberneering

It will be at the UAS Challenge where A3T aims to introduce a unique 3D printed drone. One of the team’s founding members Gabriel Damian gives more details. ‘We have partnered with company Fiberneering. Their new 3D printing method – the FRP3D technology - allows them to print Fiber Reinforced Plastics (FRP) and they have agreed to make a drone for us based on our design. It will be the first drone of its kind, the first ever 3D printed drone made of plastic reinforced with carbon fiber.’

‘We are very excited about this,’ adds Damian’s colleague Renee Meijer. ‘Thanks to this technology, the drone can be made of a very light but also very robust material. If you want to make objects out of carbon fiber, you normally need a mold which is very expansive. Moreover, this way the drone can have a complex shape, because you can 3D print anything.’ The team believes the resulting drone will give them an advantage at the UAS Challenge. ‘We will bring home a prize,’ says Damian.

‘Our core value is social impact’

Besides the competitions, A3T will be present at Amsterdam Drone Week this November and they hope to make an installation for the Amsterdam Light Festival 2019-2020. Closer to home, the team will organize a workshop on building drones held in DesignLab in the spring. ‘Our goal is to educate people about drones,’ says Meijer. ‘Our core value is social impact. We want to contribute something positive to the world.’