Every great team starts with one brilliant person, and us Mercurians were no different. Thomas Hettasch had joined RSA to look for an interesting project to join on the side like most members of the association. He was interested in Robocup but there was no such team at the time, and after a nice discussion with one of the board members, he gave a presentation about Robocup and how he would like to collect like-minded individuals to start a team and try to compete in the league. Eventually, the 6 of us (Zhengyang, Bálint, Thijs, Alexander, Renyi, Thomas) came together and formed the team with enthusiasm and optimism not knowing the countless difficulties that laid ahead. We first split ourselves into two departments, mechanical and software, which was a terrible idea because it meant that some of us had to take up managerial roles as well, so it really thinned out the little free time we had for the project. The more pressing issue at the time (still is) was with funding. Building robots is an expensive task, being broke university students with bad financial management there was no way we can pay for that, and how do you begin reaching out to companies for sponsors when you have nothing to show?
Nevertheless, we were motivated and we were going to do what we can to make it work. Back in February, we visited RoboTeam Twente who also competes in the SSL and they have tremendous amount of experience. We got a lot of useful tips from them, including ones about how to get sponsors and funding. With the new knowledge we were prepared to manage ourselves better and create a striking brand to attract partners for possible funding or sponsorships. After that, Tim joined the team and took up most of the managerial and communication tasks, which saved us from writing emails and talking to strangers and freed up all of our hands so we can focus on the technical tasks. Since then we’ve managed to get an office in the Robohouse, lots of new equipment, and established a brand we are all very excited about. Further down the line, more members joined the team, with Zvono and Andrei joining the electrical-embedded-systems department, Vladmir and Roma in the software, and Kevin in the mechanical department. With more hands on deck we are excited to push the project further to realize our vision.
After half a year of organizational headaches, TU Delft finally has its own Robocup team to compete in the Small-Sized-League! We are the Delft Mercurians, fueled by Delft’s own flames of ambition, we aim to bring brand new ideas to the competition. And we may (or may not) be aliens, we aren’t so sure ourselves, time and reality tend to bend this way and that when you are a TU Delft student. It was not easy starting a student team from scratch. None of us had experience with starting a team so the first few (many) months consisted of us savaging the bottom of RSA’s storage room for any usable parts and figuring out how to split mountains of tasks between only a few people. But thanks to every team member’s perseverance we now have our own office in Robohouse, an official team name and logo, a website, self-hosted servers, lots of new members and many more exciting additions! Now that the team is up and kicking we have made a lot of progress, and with better organization and more members we now have the capacity to finally share our story with you! You can expect to see more on this blog, on LinkedIn and on Instagram, which will have more frequent and casual stories. In the future we also hope to post update videos on YouTube to share our progress, so please stay tuned for that. And if anything catches your interest that you want to know more about or if you would like to join the team, feel free to shoot us a message, we are happy to have more Mercurians! The future is VERY bright (and unbelievably hot) on Mercury. For now though, enjoy a photo of us figuring out how to smile for the first time.
Left to right: Thijs, Bálint, Alexander, Thomas, Tim, Zvono, Renyi, Zhengyang