These DARPA-funded cardboard drones are designed to deliver supplies, then disappear

cardboard drone oneway mission apsara02
What is it with the tech world and its sudden obsession with all things cardboard? First it was Google’s “Cardboard” VR setup, and now cutting-edge R&D lab Otherlab has created a cardboard drone that will surely go down in history as the world’s most advanced paper airplane.

ICARUS (that’s Inbound Controlled Air-Releasable Unrecoverable Systems), as it’s called, is a disposable drone that’s purposely designed to fly out on missions that there’s no coming back from.

As the “A” in its acronym suggests, ICARUS is designed to be released in mid-air by a larger aircraft. The goal is then to deliver supplies to their destination, where the drone body will then safely biodegrade. It’s able to do this because the UAV flies like a glider, with no built-in motor. Its only (presumably non-compostable) electronic components are a mini computer and sensors, which control where it travels and ultimately lands.

“There are two use cases that make the most sense: delivering humanitarian payloads to remote areas lacking suitable road infrastructure, or in cases where it’s worth minimizing human exposure, transporting blood, vaccines, and other medical supplies,” Otherlab engineer Star Simpson told Digital Trends. “Alternately, [these vehicles] may also enable the delivery of other equipment, such as batteries, to specific locations. We enable distributed delivery with precise landings, solving the ‘last leg’ problem for battlefield or low-infrastructure locations, and also reduce supply chain vulnerability in those cases.”

The project is the realization of a piece of DARPA research, from whom the funding for the work came. The biodegradable part of the project isn’t just about sustainability, either. It builds on an earlier DARPA project called Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR), intended to create self-destructing electronic devices able to stop high-tech military equipment falling into enemy hands.

That’s not to say it won’t one day be available to the likes of you or I in some form, however. “We are looking for commercial partnerships to bring this technology to the market,” Simpson said.

Emerging Tech

Global Good wants to rid the world of deadly diseases with lasers and A.I.

Global Good, a collaboration between Intellectual Ventures and Bill Gates, aims to eradicate diseases that kill children in developing nations. It tackles difficult problems with high-tech prototypes.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Emerging Tech

The 10 most expensive drones that you (a civilian) can buy

OK, these drones may be a bit beyond your budget: Check out the most expensive drones in the world, from industrial giants to highest-end filming tools.
Gaming

These are the coolest games you can play on your Google Chrome browser right now

Not only is Google Chrome a fantastic web browser, it's also a versatile gaming platform that you can access from just about anywhere. Here are a few of our favorite titles for the platform.
Emerging Tech

Wish you could fly? You totally can with these top-of-the-line drones

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Emerging Tech

A river of stars one billion years old flows across the southern sky

Astronomers have identified a river of stars flowing across our galaxy and covering most of the southern sky. The estimated 4000 stars that comprise the stream were born together and have been moving together for the last one billion years.
Computing

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.
Emerging Tech

Descending at an angle could be key to landing heavier craft on Mars

Landing on Mars is a challenge: The heavier the craft, the more difficult a safe landing becomes. Scientists propose using retropropulsion engines and angling the craft to create a pressure differential to land heavier crafts in the future.
Emerging Tech

Ant-inspired walking robot navigates without GPS by using polarized light

What do you get if you cross Boston Dynamics and Ant-Man? You get Antbot, a robot from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) which uses ant-like navigation to move around without the aid of GPS.
Emerging Tech

InSight’s heat probe will dig 16 feet beneath the surface of Mars

New images from NASA's InSight mission to Mars have confirmed that the lander succeeded in setting the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package instrument onto the surface, from where a self-hammering spike will burrow downwards.
Emerging Tech

White spots on Ceres are evidence of ancient ice volcanoes erupting

Scientists are pouring over data collected by NASA's Dawn mission to learn about the dwarf planet Ceres and the bright white spots observed at the bottom of impact craters. They believe that these spots are evidence of ice volcanoes.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

NASA to launch SPHEREx mission to investigate the origins of our universe

NASA is launching an ambitious mission to map the entire sky to understand the origins of the universe. The Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission will launch in 2023.