New Scientist reports that a “bio-drone” has been created by a NASA team for flying in ecologically sensitive areas: if it crashes, it eventually melts so as to not pollute the area. Or, in the magazine’s more poetic language, “degrading away in a puddle of inconspicuous goo.”
Handy when you’re spying on a hostile country, too.
The body is made from molding bacterial cellulose sheets cloned from the spit of mud wasps. (Yeah, really.) The circuit board is printed in nano-silver ink.
The design concept is awesome:
…But the reality is more “interesting” than space-age:
Kind of looks like a take-away tray from a burger joint with propellers.
It uses off-the-shelf motors, props, and battery, so it doesn’t completely disappear. I think if you fly it into hostile territory, they’re gonna figure it out. Tellingly, though, there are no photos of it flying. I think I know why the story concentrates on crashing….
If you want to try the design, you can download 3D-printable files from the project web site. You have to supply your own mud wasps.