Researchers in Malaysia have found a way to turn fiber from pineapple leaves into material sturdy enough to make drone frames. Professor Mohamed Thariq Hameed Sultan of Putra University told Reuters that drones built with the material had a higher strength-to-weight ratio than frames made with synthetic fibers. They're cheaper and lighter, too.
A damaged frame can be buried and the bio-composite material will degrade within two weeks, according to the researchers. They say prototypes made from the material have flown to around 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) and, like many other drones, they can stay aloft for about 20 minutes. The researchers aim to make larger drones that can carry bigger payloads, such as imaging sensors for agricultural use.
The project, which started in 2017, is geared towards finding sustainable uses for pineapple waste. Farmers often burn or discard of the leaves after harvest, which can cause air pollution. Selling the waste instead would increase their income and may benefit the environment.