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The Pouncer, a hundred-and-forty-five-pound edible glider, with a ten-foot wingspan, is designed to be released from a cargo plane as far as sixty miles from its target. The fuselage is packed with grains; the Pouncer’s entire menu is customizable to cultural tastes and sensitivities. According to Gifford, in a complex humanitarian emergency—such as an earthquake in a mountainous area, with many villages but no usable roads—a plane could carry several hundred Pouncers, each programmed with different landing coördinates. The Pouncer has no engine, but its navigation system can adjust the wings to guide it to within twenty-three feet of its target.

The frame has some wooden components, but Gifford intends eventually to replace them with food. “Some parts can be made with a hard-baked, flour-based material that can be soaked in water and added to a meal,” he said. “My wife doesn’t like this, but I wander the supermarket aisles, playing with food, testing for tensile strength.” Dried, vacuum-packed meats show promise as landing gear.