Above image courtesy of Infoscience – EPFL scientific publications
15 November 2022
According to designboom, researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) have developed an edible drone.
It's no joke.
The drone is constructed from two wings crafted from rice cakes, and it has the potential to keep emergency victims—such as stranded hikers or injured climbers—nourished until rescuers can arrive.
"We propose a drone that is no longer only a food transporting aircraft," said the researchers, "but itself is partially edible—increasing its food-carrying mass ratio to 50 percent, owing to its edible wings. Furthermore, should the edible drone be left behind in the environment after performing its task in an emergency situation, it will be more biodegradable than its non-edible counterpart, leaving less waste in the environment."
A prototype devised by the scientists bearing the two rice cake wings attached to a thin fuselage, a tail, and a propeller is said to provide 300 kcal and also carry a payload of 80g of water.
What inspired the team at EPFL to create this "Eat a Drone" experiment was the realization that commercial drones typically carry only 10 percent to 30 percent of their own mass as payload, limiting the amount of food that can be delivered via a single flight. The scientists endeavored to increase the payload ratio by using edible materials as structural elements.