DARPA is Funding Paper Airplanes for Some Cool Purposes
Teodora Zareva is an entrepreneur, writer, board games geek and a curious person at large. Her professional path has taken her from filmmaking and photography to writing, TEDx organizing, teaching, and social entrepreneurship. She has lived and worked in the U.S. and Bulgaria and is currently doing her MBA at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. Her biggest passion lies at the intersection of media and youth development. She is the co-founder of WishBOX Foundation, a Bulgarian NGO that helps high school students with their professional orientation by organizing events, courses, summer camps and developing digital media resources.
DARPA, the U.S. Department of Defense military research agency, whose work has resulted in staples of modern life such as the Internet and GPS systems, is now working with a San Francisco-based R&D lab – Otherlab – to develop the world’s most advanced industrial paper airplanes.
The project is part of DARPA’s awesome-sounding Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program. Its aim is to develop electronic systems capable of physically disappearing in a controlled manner. Why? Because (as any Serial fan knows), the military hates leaving any kind of equipment in the field - it may end up in the wrong hands, compromise intellectual property and technological advantage, and also has negative effects on the environment. So, researchers are looking into new materials, components, integration and manufacturing that could together realize this new class of vanishing electronics.
One such project is a cheap cardboard autonomous glider that can be used to deliver supplies to remote areas and then be discarded and biodegraded. The glider has several advantages over other supply drones that are expensive, inaccurate, and need to be recovered or have enough battery capacity for the return trip, which reduces their payload capacity.
The cardboard glider, on the other hand, is ideal for delivering humanitarian payloads to regions with undeveloped infrastructure. The glider is motorless, which means it needs to be launched from a moving aircraft or drone but it can then find its precise destination thanks to a small computer on board and sensors that can adjust its wings and rudder. In this way an aircraft may launch hundreds of gliders in one flight, each of them pre-programmed with different destinations. According to Otherlab, a single airplane could conduct delivery operations covering the size of California.
The gliders benefit from being constructed from a low-cost, high-availability material that can ship easily in a flat package and can be assembled by anyone without a technical background. This makes it ideal for doctors in the field who need to ship medical supplies to different remote areas.
Journaling can help you materialize your ambitions.
- Organizing your thoughts can help you plan and achieve goals that might otherwise seen unobtainable.
- The Bullet Journal method, in particular, can reduce clutter in your life by helping you visualize your future.
- One way to view your journal might be less of a narrative and more of a timeline of decisions.
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
New research links urban planning and political polarization.
- Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
- Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
- People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.