The Giant Foamboard Quadcopter: A Marvel of Engineering

Unmanned quadcopter drones have become increasingly popular in recent years, revolutionizing industries such as photography, videography, and even delivery services. While quadcopters come in various shapes and sizes, engineers at the University of Manchester have recently made waves in the drone community with their groundbreaking creation – the Giant Foamboard Quadcopter (GFQ).

This time we will delve into the details of this remarkable feat of engineering, explore its unique construction, and discuss the potential future applications of this innovative technology.

Birth of the Giant Foamboard Quadcopter

The Giant Foamboard Quadcopter, as the name suggests, is a quadcopter drone with an impressive wingspan of 6.4m (21ft). Developed by a team of engineers at the University of Manchester, this unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is made primarily from foamboard, lending it a distinctive cardboard-like appearance.

The first flight of the GFQ took place in July within the confines of the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre, marking a significant milestone in the development of large-scale unmanned drones.

Engineering Challenges

Flying a drone of this magnitude is not without its challenges. Kieran Wood, a lecturer in Aerospace Systems at the University of Manchester and the pilot of the GFQ, emphasized the critical nature of the initial flight. He stated, “The first moments of flight are the make-or-break point for these types of multi-copter drones. There are many hundreds of things that you must get right.” Fortunately, the flight proceeded smoothly, and the GFQ soared through the air without any unexpected mishaps.

Unparalleled Construction

One of the most intriguing aspects of the Giant Foamboard Quadcopter is its construction. The drone is built using sheets of foamboard, which consists of a foam core sandwiched between layers of paper. Foamboard is a versatile material commonly used for modeling and mounting artwork. However, the engineers at the University of Manchester have pushed the boundaries of its application by employing it in the creation of a large-scale UAV.

Professor Bill Crowther, also from the University of Manchester, expressed his awe at the innovative design, saying, “Ultimately, with this design, you are holding up 25kg of aircraft with just a few strategically placed pieces of paper – that’s the art of the possible.” The use of cardboard-like materials may initially seem unconventional in the realm of drone manufacturing, but it opens up a world of possibilities for lightweight and environmentally friendly aircraft structures.

Potential of Cardboard Drones

While the concept of cardboard drones may evoke images of child’s play, they have proven to be a serious business with real-world applications. An Australian firm called SYPAQ has developed fixed-wing cardboard drones, which have been supplied to Ukraine. These drones have gained popularity due to their unique advantages in military operations.

The flat-packed design allows soldiers in the field to assemble the drones quickly and easily. Additionally, the cardboard construction makes them less visible to radar, providing a tactical advantage. Originally designed to carry payloads such as blood supplies, these drones have reportedly been modified to carry munitions and have even been deployed in combat situations.

Future of the Giant Foamboard Quadcopter

The successful flight of the Giant Foamboard Quadcopter has laid the foundation for further exploration and development in the field of large-scale unmanned drones. The engineers at the University of Manchester have expressed their ambitions to push the boundaries even further and create an even larger quadcopter in the future. This dedication to innovation and progress ensures that the GFQ is just the beginning of what may be possible in the world of unmanned aerial vehicles.


The Giant Foamboard Quadcopter stands as a testament to human ingenuity and engineering prowess. Its unique construction using foamboard challenges traditional notions of drone manufacturing and opens up new possibilities for lightweight and environmentally friendly aircraft structures. As the field of unmanned aerial vehicles continues to evolve, the successful flight of the GFQ paves the way for even greater advancements in this exciting industry. Whether it be in the realm of photography, delivery services, or military operations, the potential applications of this groundbreaking technology are vast. The Giant Foamboard Quadcopter has certainly captured the imagination of drone enthusiasts worldwide, and we eagerly await the next chapter in its remarkable journey.