Daily Design Inspirations 35: Drones You Can Eat! (#dailydesigninspirations)

Via Wired.com. When drones save lives, not kill!

Every sale of this edible Pouncer drone can save 50 lives

Aquila inventor Nigel Gifford’s Pouncer drone is capable of real humanitarian aid

Nigel Gifford makes drones with a difference. His humanitarian UAV, the Pouncer, is designed to deliver food aid in disaster zones – by being edible itself. That may sound unlikely, but Gifford, 70, has a history of succeeding with unconventional projects. He’s the Somerset-based engineer behind Aquila, the Wi-Fi-beaming drone bought by Facebook in 2014 to connect 1.6 billion humans to the internet.

In 2010, Gifford imagined Aquila (originally named Ascenta) as a high-altitude drone that could be used to beam internet or mobile-phone connectivity to civilians below.

“I absolutely believed in what we were doing; I could see how this could be a major benefit in communications applications,” he says. The UAV was designed with solar panels that would give it enough power to stay airborne for 90 days, with a flexible central section that could adapt to securely carry any cargo.

The call from Facebook dramatically changed Ascenta’s fate. It bought the drone for a reported $20 million (£16 million). Now with an enlarged wingspan the size of a commercial airliner, Aquila made its first successful flight – a 96-minute cruise above Yucca, Arizona – on June 28, 2016. Gifford is delighted: “For what it started out as and has now become, it’s super.”

Post-sale, Gifford’s new company Windhorse Aerospace has focused its energies on the Pouncer, a UAV whose three-metre-wide hull can enclose vacuum-packed foods. Its structure will be made from as yet unspecified baked components that can be consumed. “It will have a 50kg payload that should feed 100 people for one day,” Gifford says. GPS will guide it to within eight metres of its target. Windhorse Aerospace will be testing its capabilities in the spring; by late 2017, it will be in production.

Will Gifford sell this drone, like Ascenta? “We have the vision; we want to take it through to development,” he says. But any partnership allowing the Pouncer to be rapidly deployed would be a priority. “The key is getting the Pouncer used for humanitarian aid,” he says. “If this existed now it would be saving lives in Syria.”

CNN: “It’s not just the ingredients that make it great, but the creativity and sensitivity that makes it special.”

Is the much-loved Piaggio Vespa more iconic than the floppy disk? Is the iPod more of a design classic than the Airbus A380?

These are the questions we put to some of the world’s greatest designers when we asked them to nominate what they believe to be the most iconic industrial design from the last 100 years.

CNN spoke to Gianfranco Zaccai, CEO of global design and innovation consultancy Continuum. Zaccai and his team have been behind some of the most well-known products of the last three decades – including the iconic Reebok Pump –  and have worked with brands including American Express, PepsiCo and Samsung.

CNN asked the celebrated innovator about his views on what constitutes good design at the turn of the millennium. What do you think are the most iconic designs from the last 100 years?

CNN: What are the three most important principles of good product design?
Gianfranco Zaccai (GZ): I think these three principles apply to not just product design, but good design in general:

Gianfranco Zaccai
Gianfranco Zaccai


1. Empathy: empathy is a realization that you are not designing for yourself but for others. You have to get into the lives of the people who will use it.
2. Pragmatism: realize there are some things you have to deal with to fulfill this type of product or service. It has to fulfill the performance requirement, it has to be cost effective and it has to be producible — all things you can quantify.
3. Passion: if you just stop at what you can quantify and measure you haven’t gone far enough. Think about a great meal you have had. It’s not just the ingredients that make it great, but the creativity and sensitivity of cook that makes it special.

CNN: How do you keep the spirit of innovation in your company alive?
GZ: First and foremost it’s about hiring really good, talented people who think holistically about understanding people’s lives and then solving problems in a rational and emotional way. It’s about surrounding yourself with people with different skill sets and sensibilities where they stimulate and inform each other. The best outcomes come from bringing two or more sensibilities together and the end result is more than the sum of the two people.

CNN: What’s the best way for an amateur designer to turn a great idea into a reality?
GZ: In my mind, there are no amateur designers. They love what they do, they just may not be getting paid for it yet. There are lots of different people who didn’t study engineering or design who come up with great ideas. The important thing is for them to step outside of themselves and understand what they are sensing may be reflective of a broader need. They should see what they can perceive about a certain context and come back and re-look at their idea.

Then it is time to take it further. Don’t be afraid to share it with others who can help make it stronger. The most difficult thing about vetting new ideas is knowing which idea is truly great and which one of those are truly deployable, and then making it real by addressing all of the functional, emotional and cost issues.

And lastly, having the perseverance to overcome the organizational obstacles in getting that innovation into a socioeconomic system where it can be disseminated and revenue generating. You have to be able to see the opportunity, develop it, support it and promote it and, almost always, you need creative partners to do all of it. To be the innovator and champion of the original vision is where the passion of an amateur comes in.

CNN: How does the environment you work in affect creativity?
GZ: An environment is important but it’s not just one environment or office that fosters creativity. We allow people to work in different ways. Some space allows our team to work where they can be introspective and concentrate deeply and others that are more collaborative and allows them to interact with others both physically and virtually.

CNN: Is product design a science or an art?
GZ: It’s neither science nor art but some of both. Design tries to leverage scientific and technological opportunities and limitations with an understanding of human beings and their psychological, social, and cultural context. Design is about identifying real needs and desires; solving problems while connecting with people emotionally. Design is about making a positive difference in people lives, which they embrace because of the holistic value it provides. It’s functional, fun, enjoyable, uplifting and sustainable.

CNN: What are the most common mistakes people make when designing a new product?

GZ: I think the most common mistake that people make when designing something new is not really understanding the true issues and thinking that design is all about aesthetics.

CNN: What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
GZ: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” A young engineer said that to me once and it’s really true. The idea of not starting off anything as “the expert”, even if you happen to know a lot about it, is a good way to create new paradigms and not just repeat the past.

Need of the Hour: “Citizen Centred Design”

When we speak of Design Thinking, what do we think? Is it Design, or Thinking? And where is the Thinking when we are creating solutions for the public? As Chennai drowns due to lack of Thinking, isn’t it time we looked at Public Spaces more, and focus on “Citizen Centred Design”?

A classic example: an upcoming Bangalore pedestrian footbridge near Yeshwanthpur railway station across Tumkur Road. Pedestrians in the city hardly ever use the numerous skywalks Bengaluru has to offer, since these skywalks are constructed with little to no planning and often cause inconvenience. (Read about this “footbridge to nowhere” here and here)

Can we not think more, and Design urban solutions with greater Empathy? Clearly, in this case, the officials and designers who planned and built this thing didn’t bother to check with the users as to what their real needs, real pain was. They ended up solving the wrong problem, something like “How do we cross the road?” instead of what should have been solved: “How do we enter the station from the other side of the road?”

Apparently, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) wants 54 skywalks across the city. These are either important junctions where multiple roads meet, or mid-blocks with prominent properties on either sides requiring pedestrians to cross the road regularly.

In India, when we are planning Smart Cities, we must be smarter in Designing those cities. Can the city planners and administrators not consider Citizen’s pains before coming up with solutions? We badly need “Citizen Centred Design”. Or else we will be stuck with many such monuments of foolishness and waste.

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