We usually don’t consider drones as disposable and fairly reasonable, which is why most drones can only go as far as they can maintain battery power to make the return trip home.
But, the US DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has granted a new paper drone that completely changes that equation.
Recently, DARPA has awarded a grant to the aerodynamics research group at Otherlab in San Francisco to develop a disposable glider that can be used to ferry medical supplies or other cargo to places where people can’t go.
The drone is most specifically useful in areas where road or terrain conditions are so precarious that it would be arduous for a ground vehicle to make the trek and also in situations where there’s a disease outbreak and vaccines are urgently required.
Star Simpson, one of the engineers working on the project said, “When transporting vaccines or other medical supplies, the more you can pack onto the drone, the more relief you can supply and without the extra battery load needed to send the drone back, the drone can carry more cargo.”
Made of cheap paper materials, this drone isn’t designed to make a return trip. It can travel one way and can be discarded.
As shown in the video, these autonomous gliders obviously don’t have any motors, so they need to be launched from a moving aircraft, like another drone.
With the help of a small computer on board, these paper gliders are able to fly on their own to the destination they are programmed to travel to. The paper plane also has some kind of sensors that are programmed to adjust the aircraft’s control surfaces, like its wings or rudder, to determine where it will fly and eventually land.
Title image: nextbigfuture