News & Opinion | September 26, 2016 9:00 am

This Little Green Drone Could Be the Future of Disaster Relief

It came. It saw. It distributed food and medical supplies.

With many questioning Obama’s claim that only between 64 and 116 civilians have been killed by drone strikes overseas, the U.S.’s use of drones to negotiate problems abroad has proven a controversial issue.

But a new creation from Windhorse Aerospace might change that reputation.

The Pouncer is a drone designed to deliver resources to victims of natural disasters and war zones. Unlike the flawed traditional system of delivering resources by parachutes that often miss their targets and waste resources, the Pouncer is accurate and sustainable.

The drone can reach areas where communication has been cut off and ground traffic can’t get to victims. It can also land in potentially dangerous areas that would put an aircraft crew at risk — like Syria, the initial inspiration for company’s founder Nigel Gifford to create the drone.

The Pouncer has a unique structure that maximizes efficiency and sustainability. The plywood frame and waterproof plastic shell will be filled with with vacuum-packed food, water and medical supplies within the wings and body.

“If you imagine going into a supermarket and going up to the salad bar, you grab a pre-formed clear plastic tub with a lid and fill it with your choice of food,” Windhorse Aerospace’s Jason Dobson told News Atlas. “The initial shell of the Pouncer, which includes the fuselage and part of the wing section will initially be formed in a very similar way and can then be loaded with food, water or medical aid.”

It’s 55 lbs empty and 165 when loaded with supplies. Dobson says that after the resources are taken from the drone, the wood frame can be used as fuel for cooking and the shell can be made into shelter or a water receptacle. The company is also looking into making the wings out of an edible material to minimize waste even more.

The expected cost of building the Pouncer is $130, and an additional $65 for navigation and flight control system.

Although it’s still in development, Dobson says the Pouncer should be ready for use by next year.