Drones Are Being Made Out of Pineapple Leaves in Malaysia

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Drones can be made from all kinds of materials, but pineapple leaves?

Keen to reduce agricultural waste, researchers in Malaysia recently discovered that pineapple leaves, which are usually discarded after harvest, contain a strong fiber perfect for creating frames for drones.

Professor Mohamed Thariq Hameed Sultan of Malaysia’s Putra University, who’s been leading the research, told Reuters that drones built with the bio-composite material have a higher strength-to-weight ratio compared to ones comprising synthetic fibers, adding that using the fiber also allows for cheaper and lighter unmanned flying machines. Even better, if the drone performs a flyaway or crashes and can’t be found, most of its materials would degrade in a matter of weeks, causing less harm to the environment than regular drones that meet the same fate.

The team’s discovery is all the more fitting as the long-term plan is to use the drones to perform various farm-related tasks such as monitoring crops or carrying payloads.

The current prototype drone can fly as high as 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) and stay airborne for around 20 minutes before requiring a recharge.

When the drone project began three years ago in a region about 40 miles from Kuala Lumpur, the farmers there were sometimes burning the pineapple leaves at the end of the annual harvest, causing air pollution in the process. Transforming the leaves into a building material is helping to cut down on waste, which results in less burning and fewer pollutants entering the atmosphere.

The researchers hope its work will inspire other scientists to develop additional ways of making good use of agricultural waste as part of efforts to improve the environment and help farming communities.

Local farmer Irwan Ismali told Reuters that recycling the leaves to create a building material could have “a big financial impact on the community, especially the small farming groups.”

For a more offbeat take on folks building drones from unusual materials, check out this guy (video included) who made a quadcopter out of a pizza. Yes, really. A pizza.

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