This Creator Proves You Can Make A Drone Out Of Almost Anything

One of the biggest tech topics of the past several years has been the proliferation of drones. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been deployed in countless contexts, from saving lives to delivering packages to providing breathtaking still photo and film photography. At the same time, however, drones come with the same limitation as so much emerging technology: access. 

As common as drones have become, they're still complex machines. Most require a long supply chain, high-tech components, and expert manufacturing. As UNICEF notes, drones have exciting applications that could improve lives in developing communities, but they're still hard to come by in places where the high-tech industry is rare or the economy is unsettled by unrest. At least one drone designer has already begun to tackle that limitation. Per Interesting Engineering, an engineer in Yemen has built a working, flyable drone using only a few wooden sticks and a simple motor.

Sky-high engineering

According to the same source at Interesting Engineering, the unnamed individual who built the wooden drone started with the most basic possible components: a few rotors, an engine, some wiring, and a handful of wooden sticks. A video shared by drone expert Samuel Bendett shows the result — a perfectly functional DIY drone achieving level and responsive flight.

This DIY wooden drone isn't the only instance of brilliant engineers using unusual materials to overcome the limitations of the marketplace. Per Spectrum IEEE, a publication of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, experts from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne submitted a paper in November 2022 proposing a drone with wings made of rice cakes, complete with a working model. The goal, the engineering team said, was to deliver a drone design dedicated to addressing famine and other crisis situations, minimizing cost and maximizing calories delivered to those in need of food.