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Cardboard drones offer medical lifeline

|25 January 2017|


An innovative cardboard drone has been developed for delivering critical supplies to remote regions.

A team of engineering researchers at Otherlab – a cutting-edge engineering R&D laboratory in San Francisco – received DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) funding to develop the world’s most advanced industrial paper airplanes.

DARPA’s Inbound, Controlled, Air-Releasable, Unrecoverable Systems (ICARUS) program, led by program manager Dr Roy (Troy) Olsson, wants to create vehicles capable of making precise deliveries of critical supplies which then vanish into thin air. This eliminates many of the technical and cost implications associated with more conventional drones.

These gliders, while capable of re-use, are designed to be expendable and biodegradable.

The Otherlab system, the Aerial Platform Supporting Autonomous Resupply Actions (APSARA), pairs advanced computational design techniques with low-cost fabrication methods for rapid airframe development. The designs are adaptable to mission-specific payloads across a range of production scales. APSARA vehicles have a long shelf-life, can be cheaply assembled, and flat-pack for shipping, to be folded into form when needed. APSARAs are customizable, can be assembled in theater, and benefit from being constructed from a low-cost, high-availability material.

APSARAs are ideal for delivering humanitarian payloads to the most remote areas. Capable of carrying low thermal loss canisters and medically sensitive fluids, APSARAs can transport blood and vaccines – often most critically needed in regions with undeveloped road and runway infrastructure.



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Written By

Iain is a creative writer, journalist and lecturer, and formerly an editor of two international business publications. Iain is now editor of Innovators Magazine, as well as the strategic content director for OnePoint5Media.


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