Engineer Nigel Gifford is either certifiably nuts or a genius. Given that he sold his last company (Ascenta Aerospace) to Facebook for $20 million, the probability is he is the latter. Nevertheless, it takes a particular mindset to come up with this latest wheeze – an edible drone.
POUNCER could be ready for production in about two years, according to Gifford. The frame of the UAS, developed by Windhorse Aerospace to address the need for cost-effective and reliable deliveries of food and drugs to inaccessible locations in disaster relief and humanitarian assistance applications, is currently made of wood. The original intention was that the £150/$190 drone could be burnt for fuel after landing; but Gifford (is it a coincidence he was once in the Army Catering Corps?) decided that food could also be used as a build component. The search for suitable edible materials is accelerating, though suggestions that salami will be used for wing spars are probably apocryphal.
Air or ground launched, POUNCER is intended to have a range of some 40km and an accuracy of +/- 7m, making it safer and arguably more reliable than current parachute delivery systems. Carrying 50kg of food or medicines, or both, a single drone could mean the difference between 50 people eating for a day or not.