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Feeding The Hungry With Edible Drones?



An English startup, Windhorse Aerospace, has an audacious plan for helping combat poverty in Africa: make drones that are (at least partly) edible.

Founder and CEO of the company, Nigel Gifford, was a former logistics expert for the army and now works as an engineer based out of Yeovil, England. In 2014, Gifford sold his solar-powered drone company, Ascenta, to Facebook for $20 million.

Forbes magazine reported that the idea for edible drones came to Gifford as he discussed how to get food to citizens of Aleppo, Syria (a city devastated by the ongoing war) with an Air Force Officer.

The traditional method for delivering aid to warzones or disaster areas is to airdrop supplies from planes which fly over the affected site. This method has a number of problems which include risking injury or death to aid workers and the possibility that the goods land far from their intended destination. Why struggle with these issues when you can deliver food cheaply and safely via drones?

Sounds like a good plan but how does it work?

The Pouncer drone is transparent with a three-meter wingspan. Within its hull and frame, food, water and medical supplies can be packed. The current prototypes are made of sustainably sourced wood but the company ultimately aims to construct a frame made completely from edible materials.

They can be launched from the ground or the air and have a flight range of up to 35 kilometers. Windhorse claim that during testing the Pouncer has manged to land within seven meters of its intended destination. Once it does make landfall, it is designed to be broken down for shelter, cooking or providing heat to survivors.

It currently has three iterations:

          Name:              Load capacity:

  • Mark 1               20 kilograms of goods (44 pounds)
  • Mark 2              50 kilograms of goods (110 pounds)
  • Mark 3              100 kilograms of goods (220 pounds)

The cost of each drone is expected to be around £500 ($690 USD).

The development and testing of the prototypes has been a long process but Windhorse are expecting to be ready to fully launch by year’s end.

We are looking forward to tracking the progress of this project and seeing it out in the world helping people!

For more feel good drone stories – see here or here.



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