A high-tech sailing drone was deployed over the Atlantic Ocean near Charleston, South Carolina, last weekend to collect weather data directly from nasty hurricanes.
The autonomous ocean drone, known as a saildrone, was redeployed by California-based Saildrone Inc., which designs and operates autonomous ocean drones, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to assist the agency in hurricane data collection. . The same saildrone made international headlines in 2021 when it captured the “first-ever video from inside a major hurricane at sea” when Hurricane Sam crossed the Atlantic.
NOAA has already incorporated drones into its hurricane research, and 2023 will see an even bigger and more high-tech fleet. The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, will see a fleet of 12 saildrones – the largest fleet yet – that can be deployed during storms over the ocean. Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
“Off the coast of South Carolina is a particularly complex ocean area with relatively shallow waters combined with the strong, warm currents of the Gulf Stream that provide energy to a storm,” said Greg Foltz, oceanographer from the NOAA and one of the principal persons in charge of the mission. investigators said of the saildrone deployed over the weekend, according to a press release provided to Fox News Digital.
“As hurricanes pass through these warm waters, they often intensify, potentially just before landfall, so understanding how the ocean interacts with storms in this region is very important.”
COULD AI BECOME THE WEATHER OF THE WORLD? MAN-MADE WEATHER MODELS MAY BE ON THE WAY OUT
US agencies and the military have made repeated announcements in recent months about how they are using technology such as drones, which typically rely on artificial intelligence and computer vision, to fly autonomously to reinforce national security or to study natural disasters such as fires and storms. Saildrones, in particular, use machine learning combined with acoustic and camera systems and sensor data to record searches around the clock.
Sailboats typically sail for 90 days, and two of the new self-contained sailboats will remain ashore this year until needed for rapid deployment before a hurricane.
“We are intentionally sailing with an object in one of the most inhospitable and dangerous environments on Earth – in the middle of a major Atlantic hurricane,” Saildrone’s Matt Womble told New Scientist earlier this year. .
“I have so many questions about looking at the data over the years,” NOAA Hurricane Field Program Deputy Director Heather Holbach told the Bradenton Herald of her hurricane research. She said the only way to unlock the mysteries surrounding storms is to collect data from the inside, which is best suited for unmanned vehicles.
“I’m super excited to see where this will take us,” she said.
CAN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE PREDICT THE WEATHER IN MONTHS? THIS COMPANY SAYS IT CAN
According to NOAA’s Greg Foltz, Saildrones were able to collect unprecedented data during the 2021 and 2022 hurricane seasons, and the fleet expansion means researchers could “bring multiple saildrones into the same hurricane”. Observing the same storm from different angles could improve forecasts about the storm, as ships collect data on sea surface temperature, salinity, surface air temperature, humidity, pressure, wind direction and speed, and wave height.
AI TEAMS UP WITH CALIFORNIA FIREFIGHTERS TO DETECT SMOKE BEFORE IT CAUSES CHAOS
“Unmanned systems and other tools collect data at different levels of the ocean and atmosphere that is critical to understanding how storms form, build and intensify,” NOAA said in a statement. press release on new hurricane tracking initiatives. “With NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft carrying sensors, this data paints a clearer picture for scientists of the forces that drive hurricanes.”
Sailboats can also take the beatings of storms, which can bring 90-foot waves and high winds that can exceed 100 mph. As the ships collect the data, it feeds directly into hurricane models, allowing researchers to better simulate hurricane physics and predict forecasts.
AIR FORCE SHOWS HOW ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE WILL HELP ARMY DOMINATE AIRSPACE
“We ultimately hope to improve models and improve forecasting of hurricane intensity,” Foltz told the Bradenton Herald.
The sailboats will be joined by other fleets of autonomous data collectors, including small planes that can measure temperature, pressure and humidity while flying in storms. NOAA will also deploy new dropsondes, tube-like sensors dropped into hurricanes, which can capture “atmospheric pressure, temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction profiles” as they fall into the air in a storm.
The proliferation of high-tech autonomous machines doesn’t mean NOAA’s famed “Hurricane Hunters” won’t fly manned aircraft through dangerous storms anymore – at least for now.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division chief meteorologist Joseph Cione told the Bradenton Herald that the agency is working on the next generation of “Hurricane Hunter” aircraft, and that human searchers will continue to fly at through the storms in the years to come. However, he predicts a “slow transition” where only unmanned vehicles will fly in storms.