Drones

Cardboard delivery drone has a one-way ticket

Cardboard delivery drone has a...
Once the goods have arrived, the drones biodegrade in a matter of days
Once the goods have arrived, the drones biodegrade in a matter of days
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Once the goods have arrived, the drones biodegrade in a matter of days
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Once the goods have arrived, the drones biodegrade in a matter of days
The payloads could include blood, vaccines and other medically-sensitive fluids
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The payloads could include blood, vaccines and other medically-sensitive fluids

In developing regions where lack of road infrastructure is problematic for those in the business of moving goods, drones are already having an impact. But also problematic is the fact that the people sending drones off to do the courier work kinda need them back again. A new cardboard drone being funded by DARPA won't concern itself with such limitations, with the ability to deliver vital goods and disappear soon after the job is done.

Back in 2015 we learned of a typically futuristic DARPA program called ICARUS, which stands for Inbound, Controlled, Air-Releasable, Unrecoverable Systems. As the title suggests, the name of the game is to develop small, single-use aircraft that can be deployed from larger aircraft, carry supplies to isolated locations and evaporate thereafter.

The venture builds on and incorporates an earlier DARPA program called Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR), which is basically a research effort to develop self-destructing electronics as a way of stopping military gear from falling into the wrong hands. Looking to find a home for this vanishing circuitry, the agency has now provided the San Francisco-based research team at Otherlab with funding to build what would surely be the most tech-savvy paper plane to take to the skies (apologies to the PowerUp FPV).

The payloads could include blood, vaccines and other medically-sensitive fluids
The payloads could include blood, vaccines and other medically-sensitive fluids

The Aerial Platform Supporting Autonomous Resupply Actions (APSARA) systems are a heavy-duty cardboard gliders that can be deployed from an aircraft like a C-17 cargo plane, by the hundreds. Star Simpson, hardware developer on the project, tells us that they can then glide up to around 55 mi (88 km) away from the drop point, before circling in and making a precise landing with the cargo in tow.

"We have done tests releasing our aircraft from 1,000 ft (304 mt) and proved their ability to turn at waypoints and to land within close range of a specific location," Simpson tells New Atlas.

Once the goods have arrived, the drones biodegrade in a matter of days. And because it is a glider without motors and rotors, it means that all of the onboard electronics, courtesy of DARPA's VAPR program, go with it. Otherlab isn't disclosing the cost of each drone, only saying that they are designed to be both expendable and biodegradable.

The payloads could include blood, vaccines and other medically-sensitive fluids, and the aircraft could be used in disaster zones as well as battlefield scenarios. "The current models carry 1 kg (2.2 lb), we believe they could scale up to carrying 10 kg (22 lb) without issue," says Simpson.

Source: Otherlab

13 comments
JamesDemello
Lose the fins, they'll just get broken off and you don't need them - fly all my rc wings without them and they are very stable. Otherwise, good idea.
watersworm
DARPA ? When will have tiny atomic bombs "delivery" ?
AllanDallyn
This shows how Star Trek continues to change the world, it looks like a Romulan bird of prey lol
Mzungu_Mkubwa
Soon the FedEx planes won't even have to land! Just flying over the landscape, drones are dropped along the way and autonomously find their way (via on-board GPS circuitry) to each individual address pre-programmed in! Its the new mailman! ("mail-person" to the PC sensitive.)
EdgarAndre
This is a good idea. For harder places to land it could have a parachute. The small electronics parts (battery, servos ans receiver) should be returned for a credit or else they will end up in the trash, the rivers or the ocean.
JimSiesfeld
Operation Market Garden would have had a much different out come in "saved Allied lives" if such simple "supply bats" were used to resupply Paratroopers rather than our Troopers over the English Channel in Horsa Gliders for certain fatal "loop-stall" landings into the booby trapped fields of France. The sorry thing is the idea has probably been around for a century but the industrial military complex likely kept such a simple, "cheap" solution, squashed at the expense of the lives of many. ........ooooo, the ugly nature of Man.
MattII
@AllanDallyn, it actually looks rather more like a Horten Ho 229. @JimSiesfeld, the technology to build this didn't exist until at least the late 50s, and it wasn't until much more recently that it could be made to be thrown away.
BobKropp
Smugglers should love this.
unklmurray
Man I wish we had Drones 40 years ago......It sure would've made my smuggling a whole lot easier.......My friend whose watching me type this....says'' You never did any smuggling''I was good enough that I never got caught.......These Drones would have made me millions..........LOL :-}}
Gavin Greenwalt
@JamesDemello, the fins aren't necessary for stability, they most likely are just to reduce drag and increase range.