|This small boat, called EMILY, will be directed into the path|
of hurricanes this season to collect storm data.
(Courtesy: Hydronalix Inc. / June 14, 2012)
June 17, 2012
They don't look much like boats, or robots for that matter. Yet a small fleet of crewless watercraft are to be sent right into the paths of tropical storms for the first time this year with an important mission: Collect valuable ocean and atmospheric data that should improve hurricane forecasts.
"We want to obtain swift and continuous data from the eye of the storm for several days, which is very difficult to get in real time," said Justyna Nicinska, a program manager with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Two different models of the aquatic drones will be launched into hurricane-prone areas, likely near Puerto Rico and Key West. Both models will be satellite-linked to transmit the data they collect back to computers at the National Hurricane Center west of Miami.