Technically, this steerable paper airplane wasn’t designed for making pinpoint attacks on a teacher or college lecturer — more as a highly affordable unmanned aerial vehicle that could be used to blanket a given area with cheap sensors. But clearly the researchers at Queensland University of Technology haven’t realised the full potential of their creation.
Recently developed technologies, like inkjet printable circuits, ultra-flat batteries, and even shape memory polymers, have made a creation like the Polyplane, that uses ailerons controlled by onboard electronics, possible. And even if the paper drones end up costing far more than a regular old sheet of copy paper, losing one is negligible compared to the costs of the unmanned drones currently circling the skies.
And a paper aeroplane isn’t the only clever design the researchers came up with. Taking inspiration from nature — specifically maple trees — they also created an artificial maple key. It can’t be controlled or steered with the same amount of precision as the Polyplane, but the Samara — as they’ve called it — can still deliver sensors and other electronics safely to a target through a slow spinning decent. At the least, it does a better job than the acorn bombs the US Army’s been working on. [Queensland University of Technology via Gizmag]