Two decades ago, except for creative researchers, no one would have imagined that drones, aerial vehicles that can carry heavy loads that are often associated with bombing and their use in war, would be used in the healthcare sector and catastrophic situations.
Recently developed tiny food-delivering drones have the capacity to carry 10%-30% of their own weight but researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne (EPFL) decided to increase that ability to 50%.
The team of scientists developed edible wings as a result which means they did not have to engineer capacity into the machine. The partially edible aircraft is a part of "RoboFood", a project that is inventing edible robots for both humans and animals.
A paper "Towards edible drones for rescue missions: design and flight of nutritional wings" presented at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) conference in Kyoto discussed the details of the edible drone.
The small air vehicle is being made to be used during crisis situations like catastrophes. The drone can reach people in need of food. In cases of floods, for example, people are often stuck in challenging locations. While they wait for rescue teams and helicopters, there needs to be a way to provide food.
The wings of the plane are made of puffy rice cakes joined together with gelatin. Commercially, rice cakes are available in round shapes. Experts cut them into hexagon shapes so that they can stick together easily and be cut into wings. When the gelatin dries, wings are covered in plastic for hygiene as well as protection from humid environments.
The nutritious wingspan is 678 mm, delivering 300kcal through the rice cake and gelatin combined.
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