Sunday, February 21, 2016

Robot Weather Forecasters

            During severe storms and when weather conditions are dangerous and unsafe, no one ever wants to go outside. NASA has created a military-grade drone known as the Global Hawk to track storms during undesirable weather conditions. Rather than having human weather forecasters predict the weather, this technology has been created to collect data on storms without the manual work of humans.
             One point I would like to emphasize is the fact drones can fly high or low and with a lot less fuel than a crewed aircraft requires, which is a common method used for tracking storms. This is very advantageous because the drone can fly at multiple altitudes, rather than just having to stay at a certain altitude. Therefore, the altitude at which it is flying at can be controlled and adjusted in ways to be able to collect data better. In addition, less money would be spent on fuel since this drone requires a lot less fuel compared to aircrafts. A second point I would like to emphasize is the fact that the drone has an instrument that looks like a “steampunk vending machine.” It is an instrument that drops canisters into the storm, collecting information on the humidity, the pressure, the temperature and other characteristics of the atmosphere. This is an advantage because it is more convenient for humans. In the article, it states that these canisters can be dropped into the storm “with the click of a mouse.” Instead of having humans manually throw these canisters, the drone is able to throw them in a short amount of time. Lastly, the article states how the Global Hawk can fly for 26 hours at a time and that its data, when combined with other data sources, produces accurate information. This serves as an advantage because the drone will be able to last for an extended period of time and therefore be able to collect as much information as needed.
            A similar technology such as the 18-kilogram Boeing ScanEagle was used a few years ago and was shown to be effective. It provided more precise data regarding weather systems because it was a nimble sensor that was really involved in the storms.
            Although the Global Hawk appears to have many advantages, there are some things the article has overlooked. For one, the article doesn’t take into consideration the fact that the drone could break and malfunction while it is up in the sky. Will a human have to go up in an aircraft instead to collect the storm data? Secondly, if using drones were to become the new way of predicting upcoming storms then there would be a smaller number of humans predicting them. As a result, if people were to rely more on drones to gather information, people who currently predict upcoming storms will have to find another job. Lastly, more money would be needed in order to build a number of drones, and this would be an additional expense.


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1 comment:

  1. The global hawk seems like it is a great idea for predicting weather because I feel like it will eliminate a lot of human error when making weather predictions. I agree that the different altitudes the drone can fly can be very useful when collecting different types of data but at the same time the drone does worry me. If the weather is bad enough the drones could fly out of control and not be able to collect anything or crash into something important. That wastes the money it took to make the drone and the money they have to spend to make a new drone to gather the information anyway. I do like how drones can fly up to 26 hours at a time because there is no way a human could do that and collect that type of data. Lastly, I agree that a really bad problem is the fact that even though drones are more accurate they take away jobs that current human need to make a living.


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