Technically, this steerable paper airplane wasn't designed for making pinpoint attacks on a teacher or college lecturer—more as a highly affordable unmanned aerial vehicle that could be used to blanket a given area with cheap sensors. But clearly the researchers at the University of Queensland haven't realized the full potential of their creation.
Recently developed technologies, like inkjet printable circuits, ultra-flat batteries, and even shape memory polymers, have made a creation like the Polyplane, that uses ailerons controlled by onboard electronics, possible. And even if the paper drones end up costing far more than a regular old sheet of copy paper, losing one is negligible compared to the costs of the unmanned drones currently circling the skies.
And a paper airplane isn't the only clever design the researchers came up with. Taking inspiration from nature—specifically maple trees—they also created an artificial maple key. It can't be controlled or steered with the same amount of precision as the Polyplane, but the Samara—as they've called it—can still deliver sensors and other electronics safely to a target through a slow spinning decent. At the least, it does a better job than the acorn bombs the Army's been working on. [University of Queensland via Gizmag]