Saildrone Launches Five Drones in the Caribbean to Help Us Fight Hurricanes

Unlike Bob Dylan in his hit song, Saildrones really does hope the answer is "blowin’ in the wind". The company plans to launch five of its ocean drones in the Caribbean, to gather data from hurricanes.
Saildrone USV 8 photos
Photo: Saildrone
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Saildrone is a San Francisco-based manufacturer of uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs) and uses them to collect ocean-related in situ data.

In a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) agency, the company prepares to launch five ocean drones in the Caribbean, more precisely in the US Virgin Islands. The drones will be launched in August and will collect valuable data during the 2021 Tropical Atlantic hurricane season.

The USVs will help scientists get a better understanding of how hurricanes work and get to intensify. The drones will go right in the paths of hurricanes, observe the extreme weather and transmit real-time meteorological and oceanographic data such as the air and water temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, and more, as announced by Saildrone.

In order for the vehicles to cope with such extreme weather conditions, the ocean drones are designed to withstand waves that are more than 10 feet (3 meters) tall and winds of over 70 mph (112 kph). They are also equipped with so-called “hurricane wings” that are 16.5 ft (5 m) long.

Christian Meinig, Director of Engineering at NOAA/PMEL says this will be an unprecedented event, as this is the first time someone dares to send a robotic vehicle right into the eye of a hurricane.

According to Saildrone, hurricane damage is estimated at approximately $54 billion a year in the United States alone.

Saildrone’s USVs are mainly powered by solar and wind, are equipped with advanced sensors, high-resolution cameras, and use artificial intelligence technology that allows them to maneuver on their own. Saildrone Explorer and Saildrone Surveyor are part of the company’s fleet and they can carry out missions of up to 12 months at a time. The Explorer is a 23 feet (7m) USV, while the newer model, the Surveyor, is much bigger, at 72 ft (22 m).

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About the author: Cristina Mircea
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Cristina’s always found writing more comfortable to do than speaking, which is why she chose print over broadcast media in college. When she’s not typing, she also loves riding non-motorized two-wheelers, going on hikes with her dog, and rocking her electric guitars.
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