Defense contractor Raytheon has designed unmanned robotic paragliders that can transport shipping containers onto vessels during emergencies, Fast Company’s Co.Exist blog reports.
The concept is being funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency under a military program called Tactically Expandable Maritime Platform.
“The vision is to enable humanitarian assistance and disaster relief over broad coastal areas without dependence on local infrastructure,” according to a DARPA notice. The technology could give aid agencies a leg up in countries such as Syria, where escalating political conflict is expanding the emergency needs of its people faster than international aid agencies are able to deliver them.
The Raytheon-designed paragliders are connected to a video system to locate safe on-ship landing zones, according to the article. The gadget, called the ParaFoil Air Delivery System, was demonstrated in March. Raytheon also designed modules inside shipping containers to facilitate tracking.
The technical goal of the funding project is to “investigate and develop modular technologies and modular systems that leverage globally used International Organization for Standardization shipping containers,” according to a 2010 tender. A design that is modular can be easily altered, taken apart, and have additional functions tacked on to it.