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News Link • Inventions

Steerable paper planes and maple seeds the basis for life-saving, disposable UAVs

•, By Loz Blain
 The term "UAV" generally leads us to think about expensive, high-tech military drones like General Atomics' Predator, but a Robotics team led by Dr. Paul Pounds at Australia's University of Queensland has created a pair of UAVs that are so cheap and easy to manufacture that they'll literally be disposable, single use items. One's basically a high-tech paper plane, while the other follows the form factor of a maple seed with both designed to help save lives in the event of a forest fire.

The first prototype will be a familiar design to anyone who ever sat up the back of a university lecture making trouble. Ahem. It's a paper plane, almost exactly the same design I achieved some of my greatest college hijinks with, but with a few clever upgrades.

The first is an avionics system that gives the cellulose Polyplane the capability to self-steer once released from a larger aircraft or drone over the deployment area. It steers itself using small elevon tabs hanging off the back of each wing with an onboard control system steering the craft to its pre-determined destination, or as close as possible.


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