Student team A3T wants to build a flying car

| Michaela Nesvarova

A flying car, a field test in Malawi, a drone delivering emergency pills. The UT drone team A3T (Aerobotic Tech Team Twente) has big ambitions for the coming academic year.

A small fraction of the 25 members of A3T with their drone 'Toothless'

The students at A3T will have a busy summer preparing for all the competitions they plan to participate in. The most challenging one seems to be the ‘Go Fly’ competition in the US. ‘For this we will need to build a flying car,’ says Gabriel Damian, co-founder and CEO of A3T. ‘It sounds very difficult, but it is basically a drone but bigger. We essentially need to build a drone that is big enough to sit on.’ That sounds rather dangerous. ‘Indeed. And it is not exactly legal here. But we will test with a mannequin before we put a real human in there.’

Invited by UNICEF 

If they are able to raise funding, the UT team will also travel to Africa. ‘We got invited by UNICEF to do a field experiment in Malawi,’ clarifies Damian. ‘Malawi is one of the countries where UNICEF focuses on innovation. Drones are a part of that as they could be used for humanitarian help. We got invited to test our drone in a real-life scenario in so called ‘humanitarian drone corridor’ that UNICEF has launched in Malawi. Only a couple of universities have tested there so far. We would be one of the first.’

Before these possible trips to other continents, A3T will first travel to a SciRoc challenge in the UK in September. For this competition, they need to create an emergency response drone capable of delivering medicine indoors – while flying autonomously. A similar challenge awaits the team at the UAS Challenge for which they have to develop a fully autonomous medical drone that can transport medicine and water bottles.

New office at Saxion 

Apart from travelling and building various types of drones, A3T is expanding. On top of their office on the UT campus, they will soon have an office space at Saxion in the centre of Enschede. ‘We needed a better office space and there was none available at the UT at an affordable cost. Plus, it seems logical to be closer to another drone projects, and so we approached Saxion,’ says Damian. ‘There we will be able to share all facilities with the Saxion drone project. We expect to get the office in September.’