It may not look much different to a regular drone, but that's a good thing—because this little biodrone is made from materials that allow it to biodegrade and simply melt away into its surroundings.

The drone, you see, is designed to leave as little trace as possible if it crash-lands. The main airframe of the craft is made form a root-like fungal material called mycelium which is then coated in plant-based cellulose to make it sturdy. Much of its circuitry is printed using silver nanoparticle ink, which means it can break down.

The idea, then, is that the drones are sturdy enough to fly but biodegradable enough to break down if they crash land in enemy territory. "No one would know if you'd spilled some sugar water or if there'd been an airplane there," said Lynn Rothschild of NASA's Ames Research Center in California, who made the drone, speaking to New Scientist.


So far, a few parts still have to made of non-biodegradable materials—in this case, the rotors, controls and battery—but at least the craft would be unidentifiable by the time it was found. [New Scientist]

Image by CNASA/Ames