1 September, 2016 08:30

Me and my drone: how automatons are changing research

From birds to coastlines, drones take data collection to a whole new level.

29 August 2016

Super drone

Carla Thomas/NASA

The gigantic Global Hawk (pictured) — complete with a 40-metre wingspan — flies into storms brewing over the Atlantic Ocean to collect data that help forecasters assess incoming weather. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA operate the drone. “People need timely, reliable and actionable information,” says Robbie Hood, director of NOAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program. She describes a recent example, when “real-time data delivered from the NASA Global Hawk to the National Hurricane Center were credited for alerting the hurricane forecasters to the storm’s intensification.”

Nature doi:10.1038/nature.2016.20494

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