Feeds

Aussie droid planes in Barbados hurricane probe

Sky-spy to eye eye of storm

Build a business case: developing custom apps

American weather boffins plan to send more unmanned aircraft plunging deep into the 2008 crop of Caribbean hurricanes, in a bid to find out more about the deadly rotating storm systems.

Aerosonde heads into the hurricane

When the going gets tough, the robots get going.

©Jon Becker, Aerosonde Pty Ltd.

This year will see as many as five drone probes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) heading out on perilous eye-of-the-storm missions. The programme has something of an international flavour, however. The droid planes are actually from Australia, and will fly from Barbados rather than American territory. (The US FAA don't care for unmanned planes near hurricanes in US airspace, apparently.)

NOAA met-boffin Joe Cione reckons the drones' ability to fly through the eye of a hurricane at 300 feet will easily trump conventional manned overflights at 10,000 feet - even where these release "dropsonde" instruments which fall through the storm.

"It's the difference between taking a photograph and taking a movie," Cione told Reuters. "You're not going to miss anything... That area of the storm is critical because that's where the maximum winds are. It will give us a better understanding of where the energy is extracted out of the sea."

Cione and the NOAA believe that the interactions in which energy is transferred between the sea and the storm are key to predicting what will happen next - and thus, perhaps, to avoiding future Katrina-style disasters. Their new 9-foot wingspan "aerosonde" droidplanes can fly 2,000 miles on a single tankful, and have a satellite datalink for control and for relaying atmospheric readings. The machines cost $50k-80k.

Australian makers Aerosonde say that their design was the first sky-bot to cross the Atlantic in 1998. The company's technology was originally developed with assistance from the US Office of Naval Research, and has previously deployed on earlier joint operations with American hurricane-watcher aircraft from the NOAA and US Air Force. NASA has also used Aerosondes.

Previously the Aussie robocraft used a American naval airbase at Key West, but it's hoped that the new Barbados deployment for the 2008 hurricane season will allow more storm probes than in previous years.

Despite the old seadog's rhyme*, hurricane season is officially just about to open in the Caribbean. The NOAA sets the start at the first day of June. More on this story from Reuters here. ®

Bootnote

*"June, too soon; July, stand by; August, you must [expect hurricanes]; September, remember; October, all over." WARNING: This old seadog mnemonic is not totally reliable, especially regarding October.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.