When a natural disaster occurs, it is important to provide people not only with medical assistance, but also with food. Transporting food is very complicated in the case of inaccessible and remote areas. Edible drones that can deliver food anywhere could change everything. Has anyone ever thought of making drones directly from food?

Drones made of food

The team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) decided the answer was to make the wings perform both as functional for flight and as cargo at the same time. Unique drones have rice cakes instead of wings. These rice cakes are cut into hexagons with the help of a laser and are connected with gelatin. The rice wings are covered with a protective plastic wrap so that the food does not get damaged during the journey. Various materials were used for gluing corn cakes, for example corn starch or chocolate. In the end, gelatin had the best adhesive properties.

Credit:  Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL)

The plane will improve

How fast can this rice plane fly? It is not a slow machine, it can fly at a speed of 10 meters per second. Now, the team wants to transform other nonedible pieces, by suggesting that structural components, such as an aileron or rudder, could be 3D-printed from edible material. The wingspan is 70 centimeters and they are made of 80 grams of rice. The rest of the payload can be used to transport water, as people need to ensure clean drinking water as well. The lead author, Bokeon Kwak, told IEEE Spectrum the wing tastes like “a crunchy rice crisp cookie with a little touch of raw gelatin.”

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL)

A revolutionary idea

The research has been documented in a study paper entitled Towards Edible Drones for Rescue Missions: Design and Flight of Nutritional Wings, and is just one application of EPFL’s research initiative called RoboFood, which seeks to develop edible robots in a way that maximizes both performance and nutritional value.

This is a revolutionary idea that can save a large number of human lives. Even food can be a useful material, and when drones are made from it, the problem of their low payload will be solved. Perhaps this idea will become an inspiration for various companies that could produce flying food.


Image credit: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL)