Drone technology has improved a lot over the past months, and not only for entertainment purposes but for various industrial and search and rescue operations. Drone tech has inevitably shaped the way weather stations and scientists predict the weather as well.
With the support of the government, new developments in drone technology were tested and proven to aid in the understanding of wind patterns, especially related to hurricanes and tropical storm systems.
Latest Micro Drone Technology
This cool new technology called CICADA (named after the insect) or Close-in Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft MK5 is a micro gliding drone weighing 35 grams that transports a tiny sensor payload and uses GPS for users to determine its exact location.
The CICADA MK5 is designed for deployment by aircrafts and it can glide 15 feet using its mini wings. This little device is assembled by robots and prototypes of these were made by the U.S. Naval Research Lab (NLR). Its glide ratio is also 3.5 to 1 or 3.5 feet for every one foot it gravitates.
Hurricane Research Process
These $250 microdrones are stacked into a cylindrical tube which fit up to 32 drones and launched by an aircraft using different methods. This tube is then thrown into the hurricane to collect data. Data used to detect hurricanes are transmitted using the CICADA’s antennas. The data gathered is mostly meteorological, biological and chemical information. The CICADA’s sensors report back humidity, temperature, and changes in air pressure.
Securing FAA approval and acquiring aircrafts are just some of the things the NLR needs to do in order to harness the drone's potential for high-risk advancements. More tests will lead to a better understanding of the benefits of this technology and prepare it for manufacturing.
The CICADA drone was designed to be virtually silent without the use of an engine. This makes it lightweight so it can freely float in the air and able to record readings clearly without interfering noise from the drone itself. It is also a secret weapon for creating 3D models for forecasting cyclones.
This only disadvantage to the CICADA is that it’s disposable, which is understandable since it will be hard to bring back such tiny drones. Their signal only lasts a day before they are entirely eaten up by the storm or before they hit the ground. For some reason, not all CICADA’s are destroyed when they land on asphalt roads. The ones found wholly broken were those that fell onto something sharp and had the sensors wrecked as well as the body.
Aside from its ability to gather weather readings, the CICADA sensors are highly favorable in determining enemy submarines or spy on enemy operations. The government isn’t quite sure where it stands on drones and their use, but with a tool like this, it seems drones could help them out in numerous ways.