Flying Drones for Dinner?

“I keep getting trouble with my wife — when we go shopping in the delicatessen, I’m the one that’s flexing the salamis to see what their tensile strength is because they’d make good wing spars!”

Unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) — aka drones — are part of the twenty-first century world. We mostly think of them as a means to drop bombs on people or a the newest way to invade our privacy. Nigel Gifford has a better idea: use drones to deliver food to besieged people.

Gifford’s fledgling company, Windhorse Aerospace, is working on just that. Currently, aid is dropped into disaster zones by military planes, using pallets and parachutes, dangerous and often inaccurate. Windhorse’s drone, named “Pouncer,” weighs 145 pounds and has a 10-foot wingspan. It is designed to be released from a cargo plane at ten-thousand feet and more than twenty miles from its destination. One aircraft can carry hundreds of Pouncers, each programmed with different landing coordinates. The Pouncer has no engine, but its navigation system adjusts a cardboard fin to land within twenty feet of its target.

But Nigel Gifford has an even better idea.

“Why bring it back? Why don’t you leave it there, and why don’t you make it all out of food?” The wing structure is made from food — what works best is being tested, Compartments in the fuselage are filled with food. The rest is made from wood, which can be broken down and used for cooking and heat.

Gifford is still looking to replace wood with food. He says some parts can be made with baked hard, flour-based material that can be soaked in water and added to a meal. Dried, vacuum-packed meats are possible landing gear.

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