Saildrone drives unmanned boat in the middle of Hurricane Sam

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Limited view: the view from SD 1045 (Saildrone / NOAA)

Published 09/30/2021 7:04 PM by

The maritime executive

The autonomous sailing boat company Saildrone recorded what it believes was the first video footage recorded by an unmanned ship inside a hurricane at sea.

The U.S. Air Force Reserve’s Hurricane Hunters Squadron regularly posts videos captured in high altitude hurricanes, and viewers and storm chasers inevitably record video of hurricanes, but the footage released by NOAA and Saildrone appears to be unique. Seafarers who have experienced hurricane-force storms in the Gulf of Alaska or the Southern Ocean will be all too familiar with it: high waves, foam, heavy spray and a lot of rolling.

“Saildrone goes where no research vessel has ventured, sails right in the eye of the hurricane and collects data that will transform our understanding of these mighty storms,” ​​said Richard Jenkins, founder and CEO of Saildrone. “After conquering the Arctic and Southern Oceans, hurricanes were the final limit to Saildrone’s viability. We are proud to have developed a vehicle that can be used in the most extreme weather conditions in the world. “

Working on behalf of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, Saidrone Explorer SD 1045 was steered into the middle of Hurricane Sam. SD1045 now drives through 50-foot waves and winds in excess of 120 mph to collect critical scientific data. According to NOAA, this opens up a new and important view of hurricane conditions.

SD1045 was equipped with a special “hurricane wing” for extreme winds and collects real-time observations for hurricane forecast models. The data will help support studies of how large tropical cyclones grow and intensify.

“Using the data collected by Saildrones, we expect to improve predictive models that predict the rapid intensification of hurricanes,” said Greg Foltz, a NOAA scientist. “Rapid intensification when the hurricane winds intensify within hours is a serious threat to coastal communities. New data from sailing drones and other unmanned systems used by NOAA will help us better predict the forces driving hurricanes and alert communities earlier. “

SD1045 is one of five “hurricane” sailing drones that will be deployed in the Atlantic during this hurricane season, collecting new data on extreme weather conditions without endangering human life.


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