In recent years, drones have grown in popularity because they allow photography enthusiasts to capture stunning images that would otherwise be impossible to take. While drones have been used for research and military purposes for quite some time, these amazing pieces of technology might soon be edible too. You heard it right. A start-up company based in England is currently developing edible drones to help people trapped in war-torn or disaster-ravaged areas.
Can Edible Drones Deliver Humanitarian Aid?
Drones have already been used to deliver blood and medical supplies to people in need in Rwanda. Now, Nigel Gifford and his company Windhorse Aerospace want to take things to the next level by creating drones that can be eaten.
“Terrorizing populations has become one of the most effective methods of modern hybrid warfare. This is a way to send people the food and nutrition they need.”Nigel Gifford
Gifford, an aeronautics engineer and adventure enthusiast, is the former owner of Ascenta, a solar-powered drone company. He sold it to Facebook in 2014 for US$ 20 million. He said he got the idea to build edible drones to deliver humanitarian aid, which he named Pouncer, after a chat over coffee with a Royal Air Force officer. After that, he set out to find ways to make the project a reality.
Edible Drones Delivering Food Supplies
The plan would be for the drones to have the capability to carry food and be made of food. But one of the main challenges Gifford and his team are facing is finding foods that can withstand the voyage and foods that can be made into parts for the drones. For example, Gifford explained that pasta by thickness and weight has only one-tenth the tensile strength of aluminium. Also, the food should be culturally and religiously acceptable to recipients.
“A lot of agencies deliver things the people won’t eat”Nigel Gifford
Gifford is planning to build three models of the edible drones, all of which will be launched from either an aircraft or from the ground. These drones should be able to carry different weights and travel varying distances. The largest of the three models, according to Gifford, would have a wingspan of nine feet or at least 30 centimetres.
So far, Gifford and his team have tested several prototypes that are made mainly of wood, which will be eventually replaced by food. He is hopeful that his edible drones will be complete and fully functional by the end of 2018.