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NASA-Backed University Team Builds ‘Bio-Drone’ Through Science Contest

droneNASA has supported a team of students from Brown University, Spelman College and Stanford University in their project to build an unmanned aerial vehicle using biomaterials, The Atlantic magazine reported Monday.

Shirley Li writes 15 students worked to develop a biodegradable UAV through the 2014 International Genetically Engineered Machine competition.

The bio-drone’s parts are mostly made from fibrous mycelium that has been coated with bacterial cellulose, according to the magazine.

Joseph Shih, a bioengineering lecturer at Stanford University, said the UAV’s biological architecture would slowly decompose within a few months and the student team is working on a technology intended to speed up decomposition, according to Li’s article.

Lynn Rothschild, lead synthetic biology scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, told the magazine the drone is built to study ecological areas without disrupting sensitive ecosystems.

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