In developing regions where lack of road infrastructure is problematic for those in the business of moving goods, drones are already having an impact. But also problematic is the fact that the people sending drones off to do the courier work kinda need them back again. A new cardboard drone being funded by DARPA won’t concern itself with such limitations, with the ability to deliver vital goods and disappear soon after the job is done.
Back in 2015 we learned of a typically futuristic DARPA program called ICARUS, which stands for Inbound, Controlled, Air-Releasable, Unrecoverable Systems. As the title suggests, the name of the game is to develop small, single-use aircraft that can be deployed from larger aircraft, carry supplies to isolated locations and evaporate thereafter.
The venture builds on and incorporates an earlier DARPA program called Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR), which is basically a research effort to develop self-destructing electronics as a way of stopping military gear from falling into the wrong hands. Looking to find a home for this vanishing circuitry, the agency has now provided the San Francisco-based research team at Otherlab with funding to build what would surely be the most tech-savvy paper plane to take to the skies (apologies to the PowerUp FPV).