How edible drones could help disaster survivors
The wing tastes like: "A crunchy rice crisp cookie with a little touch of raw gelatin."
By Dean Murray via SWNS
Disaster survivors in remote areas could be kept alive - by edible drones.
Researchers have developed a small flying craft with wings made from rice cakes.
Developed by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), the drone could deliver life-sustaining nutrition or medication.
An EPFL team sought to tackle a traditional delivery drones' characteristic of only being able to carry around 30 percent of mass as payload.
The answer was to make the fixed-wing perform both as functional for flight and as cargo at the same time.
Fashioning the wing sees rice cakes laser-cut into hexagonals and fixed together by gelatin.
These are then wrapped in non-edible protective plastic, before being affixed to the small flying element.
Edible drones: Corn starch and chocolate were trialed as adhesives, but gelatin displayed stronger properties.
A prototype saw the drone able to fly 10 meters per second. Now, the team wants to turn the nonedible pieces into edibles, as well as solve a way of carrying water onboard.
They suggest structural components, such as an aileron or rudder, could be 3D-printed of edible material.
The research has been documented in the study paper "Towards Edible Drones for Rescue Missions: Design and Flight of Nutritional Wings," by Bokeon Kwak, Jun Shintake, Lu Zhang, and Dario Floreano.
Lead author Bokeon Kwak told IEEE Spectrum the wing tastes like "a crunchy rice crisp cookie with a little touch of raw gelatin."
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