The U.S. Marines have been testing a new type of drone, one that's only designed to be used once, with the drone left where it lands once the cargo it was carrying has been retrieved.
As IEEE Spectrum reports, the disposable drone has been developed by Logistic Gliders Inc. and recently tested for use by the US Marine Corps. The drone can be deployed either by a helicopter or dropped out the back of an aircraft before it proceeds to glide to its destination.
As the video above shows, the drone can be piloted remotely or setup for autonomous flight to a predetermined destination. Landings can either be performed via a belly landing, or through the use of a parachute deploying from the back of the drone. The drone itself is essentially just a wooden box made up of around 400 parts if you include the screws holding it together.
The cargo carrying capacity of these simple drones is huge. The smaller LH-1K is capable of carrying up to 300kg, whereas the larger LG-2K can carry up to 700kg. This is made possible by the size of the drones, with the wingspan being seven meters and the length four meters. The range of flight is limited to 110km traveling at a speed of 240km/h, which should be enough for most missions where fresh supplies or some other form of cargo is required to head into enemy territory, for example.
A disposable drone that is just left on the ground to slowly decompose may seem wasteful, but it solves the problem of not allowing someone access to the technology in more complex drones if they happen to go down, or indeed the difficulty with recovering a drone capable of carrying 700kg of cargo. There's also the cost savings such a simple, gliding drone allows for.