First video of oceanic drones from inside a hurricane

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For the first time, an oceanic drone has entered a hurricane and sent a video. This oceanic drone, a 23-foot-long Saildrone Explorer SD 1045, entered the winds of Category 4 fury from Hurricane Sam on September 30, 2021 as it swirled in the Atlantic Ocean. The Saildrone pushed back images of 50-foot waves agitated by winds of 190 miles per hour (190 km / h). Videos resulting from the storm-tossed ocean could make even those looking at the mainland feel a little dizzy.

An oceanic drone explores Hurricane Sam

Saildrone is the company that makes this oceanic drone that explored the interior of Hurricane Sam. In this photo, the Saildrone tests in the calmer waters of San Francisco Bay.

Saildrone Inc. and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) partnered to put the ocean drone at the core of the hurricane in hopes of obtaining data to better predict dangerous storms. Not one but five oceanic drones float in key areas of the Atlantic Ocean where storms have historically occurred. Organizations are finally hoping to have an even larger fleet watching over the ocean.

Ocean drones are equipped with a hurricane wing. The hurricane wing provides stability to these drones to operate in devastated waters and in extremely high wind conditions. The data collected by drones can help scientists understand how tropical storms grow and intensify. NOAA scientist Greg Foltz said:

Using the data collected by the saildrons, we hope to improve the prediction models that predict the rapid intensification of hurricanes. Rapid intensification, when hurricane winds strengthen in a matter of hours, is a serious threat to coastal communities. The new data from saildrones and other unmanned systems used by NOAA will help us better predict the forces driving hurricanes and be able to warn communities sooner.

Sending crucial data

The five sildrons currently in the Atlantic send real-time data. Unmanned aircraft provide information on air temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, water temperature and salinity, sea surface temperature and altitude and period of the waves. Drones share this information with 20 agencies around the world.

Four graphs showing the ratio of wind speed, barometric pressure, dissolved oxygen, and wave height.
These are the recordings that Saildrone recorded in Hurricane Sam on September 30, 2021.

Richard Jenkins, founder and CEO of Saildrone, said:

Saildrone goes where no research ship has ventured, navigating directly into the eye of the hurricane, gathering data that will transform our understanding of these powerful storms. After conquering the Arctic and the South Ocean, hurricanes were the last frontier for Saildrone’s survival. We are proud to have designed a vehicle capable of operating in the most extreme weather conditions on the planet.

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