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A team of engineers from The University of Manchester created and flown the world’s largest drone- the Giant Foamboard Quadcopter (GFQ), which is unlike any other drone worldwide thanks to its innovative design, and the fact it is made from foamboard.
The drone has a wingspan of 6.4m and weighs 24.5kg, which is just under the legal limit for drones. It has four rotors, each powered by an electric motor, and can fly by itself using an on-board computer.
The drone’s innovative design makes it stand out- It is made from foamboard (a cardboard type with a foam core and a paper skin) that is cut into pieces using a laser and glued together by hand to form the 3D structure of the drone. Its four arms are hollow boxes that can be detached for easy transport.
According to Interesting Engineering, the engineers behind the GFQ wanted to show that foamboard can be used to make complex and large aerospace structures that are cheaper and greener than the carbon fiber commonly used for drones, and expressed their hope that the project will inspire future designers to think about sustainability in a new way.
Despite the GFQ not being built for any specific purpose but to demonstrate the potential of foamboard, the engineers suggest that similar drones could be used for carrying heavy loads over short distances or for docking with other drones in mid-air.
Lecturer of Aerospace Systems at The University of Manchester Kieran Wood, who is the one to fly the GFQ, explains that the first moments of flight are crucial for these types of multi-copter drones, and that many hundreds of things must be taken into account. Nevertheless, if everything is designed and built well, success is expected.
The engineers are reportedly now working on improving the design and making it more efficient and stable, and also plan to test it outdoors to see how it performs in different weather conditions.