Businesses are increasingly looking towards drones for quick and easy delivery of goods to consumers, and we’ve already seen them put to use to send beer to festivalgoers or even emergency medical supplies in speedy times. Now a group of researchers has developed a biodegradable drone made out of mushrooms, that decomposes naturally if it breaks in an unreachable location or doesn’t need returning.
Created by a team of students, graduates and scientists at Stanford, Brown and Spelman College, the drone was an entry into this year’s International Genetically Engineered Machine competition. The main body of the drone is made out of mycelium, the thin fibers that grow on mushrooms and other fungi. Working with Ecovative Design, the team created sheets of cellulose that were ground, pulped and twisted to add strength. This was then added as a coating to the mycelium chassis to create a durable drone made out of natural materials. Only the intricate technology and plastic blades are made of non-degradable material.
The team expects that, as drones become more popular for reaching locations that humans can’t, their biodegradable drone could provide a way to reduce the impact on the environment by having it simply dissolve over time. It also opens up the door for making the technology more disposable without creating too much waste and saving a return trip to its owner. How else can drones be tweaked to help bring them into the mainstream?