UT drone team will battle in DroneClash

| Michaela Nesvarova

The UT student team A3T (Aerobotic Tech Team Twente) will once again compete in DroneClash, a drone battle held on Saturday in Katwijk. Will their drones fly to victory or will they literally crash and burn?

This second edition of DroneClash will be A3T’s first competition as an officially recognized UT student team, but not their first experience with the event. They already participated in the drone battle last year, when they didn’t make it into the final round, while another UT team Laced Horns claimed victory.

This year’s DroneClash has slightly different rules, however. ‘While last year the main goal was to capture your opponent’s drone, now you should knock it down,’ explains Gabriel Damian, co-founder and CEO of A3T. Does this make it easier to win? Not really. Because this time, even the public can try to take down the competing drones. ‘Anyone in the crowd can try to hack our drones,’ says Damian. ‘That will make things difficult. Especially since last year we lost because of hacking by our opponent.’

Toilet paper to the rescue?

The team plans to use four to five different drones in the competition. One main drone alias ‘the queen’, one defender protecting the queen and three attackers. Besides building good drones, the students have other ideas on how to get rid of their rivals. ‘We want to install camera flashes on our drones that could blind the opponent,’ says Damian.

‘We also have an idea to use toilet paper,’ continues the A3T co-founder. ‘Some teams have drones fully protected by cages, but if you drop paper on top of the cage, it stops the airflow and the drone can’t fly. Essentially, you can stop even a super fancy drone with some cheap toilet paper. Maybe it won’t work but we want to try it out, because it’s just hilarious.’

€50,000 in prizes

If their strategy works, A3T could be going home with €50,000 in prizes. Besides the main prize of €30,000, the team could win one of the smaller prizes, such as a prize for innovation or for the best pilot. What would they do with the money? ‘So much!’ answers Damien. ‘We would definitely get new equipment and new drones.’

DroneClash isn’t the last international competition that A3T is entering this year. In June, they will participate in the UAS Challenge (Unmanned Aircraft Systems Challenge) in the UK. The goal of this annual student competition is to develop a fully autonomous medical drone that can transport medicine and water bottles. After that, A3T will need to get ready for MAAXX Europe, a drone race held in September in Bristol.