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Disposable drones are one of the most interesting projects that is attracting a significant research interest – made of inexpensive and degradable materials such as paper or cellulose-based materials. They could deliver supplies, fulfill military missions and more.

A critical factor in drones is the wireless communication system where coverage and capacity is crucial for the reliable operation of a drone. For large coverage capabilities, drones require omnidirectional antennas where signal levels are mostly equal in all directions.

Currently, antennas are selected, designed and developed in order to meet these specifications in both commercial and defense applications – and can be located either inside or outside of the drone structure.

A team of researchers has been investigating the potential antenna scenarios for disposable drones which may one day be fully fabricated using inkjet printing technology.

The researchers aim to integrate antennas into origami disposable drones where two antennas based on a similar design concept are assessed for two conditions.

“The first is when all electronic components and the ground plane are located on the wings. The second is a when the electronic components are at the bottom of the drone and the antenna needs to be fed from bottom up.”

One of the simplest forms of disposable drone can be developed using origami techniques where a piece of paper can be folded to produce the drone. The paper is of standard A4 format – however thicker – in order to provide a stable gliding flight even when loaded with additional avionic control systems, according to dronebelow.com.

A vertically polarized antenna is also used at the base of the paper drone – mainly to assess the metallic ink layers deposited in the fabrication process. Small enough to be hidden inside the vertical section of the plane and isolated from the external environment, the antenna was realized using the same fabrication procedure as in the previous projects.

They believe that disposable origami drones may include other electronic components in the future – paving the way for fully integrated disposable drone solutions.