Why did the Japanese build drones from… rice cakes?

Why did the Japanese build drones from… rice cakes?

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2023-03-19 07:22:42

If a person is lost deep in the mountains without food and the nearest place of assistance is hours or days away on foot – how can the authorities assist them to survive until they die? rescued?

Japan’s University of Electronic Communications (UEC) has partnered with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) to develop an edible robot that will help solve the aforementioned problem as well as emergency situations. other.

One of their prototypes is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with wings made of rice cakes, which can quickly become an emergency rations for people in distress to increase their chances of survival.

UAV with wings made of rice cakes (Photo: UEC Associate Professor Jun Shintake)

At about 70 cm long, the wings of the UAV contain the equivalent of 300 calories of food*.

In terms of overall weight, about half of the drone is edible – that’s double the total amount of food a typical UAV can carry. In addition, the UAV can also carry 0.8 liters of water.

During flight tests, the UAV had an average travel speed of about 10 meters per second (36 km/h) so as not to affect the wing structure.

Towards commercialization, the team hopes to further improve the durability and flight time, as well as the ambition to turn the entire structure of the UAV into food.

Besides emergency help situations, the idea of ​​edible robots can be very useful in the food production process. Researchers have developed robotic fingers from gelatin and glycerin, which are both sturdy and easily manufactured.

Why did the Japanese build drones from... rice cakes?  - Photo 2.

Robotic finger made of gelatin and glycerin (Photo: UEC Associate Professor Jun Shintake)

These robotic fingers could enter the food production line – helping to reduce the risk of metal shards or other hazardous materials getting into the product.

In addition, a team of Japanese and Swiss researchers has also developed an edible material that is magnetic. They mixed salt into the gelatin so they could magnetize it.

This technology is said to make it possible to make edible robots much smaller than currently available.

*It is estimated that adults need between 1,800 and 2,600 calories per day, and children between 1,000 and 2,000 calories per day.

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