GreenSight has been awarded a Phase 1 SBIR from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop WeatherHive, a product that uses swarms of miniature drones to directly sample atmospheric properties over a wide area. This technology enables breakthroughs in severe weather forecasting and atmospheric science.
WeatherHive drones are approximately 100g and can fly around 10 kilometers. They are specially designed to withstand severe weather conditions and fly long distances. The drones are carried in a backpack sized “hive” from which they can autonomously launch, land and charge. Each one precisely measures temperature, humidity and wind speed as it flies. The swarm can cover a programmable area in each flight of up to 400 square kilometers. WeatherHive aircraft are based on GreenSight’s mature unmanned aircraft hardware and software systems already in use with commercial and military customers all over the world.
The WeatherHive nano drone has NDAA compliant custom avionics, precision atmospheric sensors and a modular design built for expansion.
Most atmospheric measurements today are captured via weather balloons, which can only capture measurements along their path as they climb. They are not reusable which means they are both expensive and polluting, but are launched daily from around a thousand radiosonde sites all over the world. By enabling continuous direct and synchronized measurements across an entire “cube”, WeatherHive can enable meteorologists to much more accurately predict the behavior of tornadoes, wildfires and other dangerous severe weather. WeatherHive will save lives, reduce injuries and reduce damage from their phenomena. WeatherHive is not only better than weather balloons, it is significantly cheaper, easier to use and eliminates litter associated with these launches. WeatherHive can also potentially replace or augment a number of other monitoring technologies such as dropsondes and Mesonets.
Daily weather balloon launches are conducted at aviation and weather facilities all over the world. Image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility.
WeatherHive enables measurement and monitoring of an area of the atmosphere called the “boundary layer” in a way that has never been possible before. The boundary layer is the area of the atmosphere between the ground and about 1-2 miles altitude. This area plays a huge role in heat exchange, weather conditions, and movement of gasses. WeatherHive will enable this area to be much more closely studied and monitored, enhancing scientific understanding of the boundary layer and unlocking new insights into how air moves around cities, forests and oceans.
Depiction of where the planetary boundary layer lies on a sunny day. Photo courtesy of NOAA, public domain.
About America’s Seed Fund
America’s Seed Fund powered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) awards $200 million annually to startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology can receive up to $2 million in non-dilutive funds to support research and development (R&D),helping de-risk technology for commercial success. America’s Seed Fund is congressionally mandated through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $8.5 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. For more information, visit seedfund.nsf.gov.