Students Created a Flying Fungus Drone
This holiday season you might find yourself in the market for a recreational flying drone – you know, something that the kids can play with. May we suggest not adding the following to your child’s wish list. Students at Stanford University teamed up with scientists at NASA to design a biodegradable fungus drone, and it recently completed its first flight. Sound a bit odd? The flying fungus certainly is, but the goal behind its creation is an admirable one. When a drone crashes, it can break apart and leave bits and pieces of metal and plastic in places where it generally shouldn’t be, much like the case of a tourist at Yellowstone National Park who recently crashed his drone into one of the park’s hot springs. The team explains that these materials could damage the environment if left unchecked, so they’ve designed the fungus drone to effectively melt into a pool of biodegradable mush if it ever crashed. RELATED: Check out some of the best drones on sale for the holidays
The biological drone’s body – a root-like fungal material known as mycelium – is grown in a laboratory, and takes just around one week to form. According to New Scientist, the drone body is then encased in cellulose sheets (grown by bacteria) and fitted with circuits printed in biodegradable ink. The motors and propellers are plucked from an off-the-shelf quadcopter.
As such, only the copter’s body is biodegradable for now, but the team is making strides towards creating organically composed propellers and – get this – sensors made out of E. coli bacteria.
Photo via Tobi Kellner
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