Drone development, from the very beginning has been about helping people achieve things that were simply out of the bounds of manned flights. Whether it be surveillance in hostile areas, or rescue operations in hard to reach regions, drones have proven their worth.
Now for the first time, a new application is being tested for these devices, cloud seeding. Cloud Seeding, up until now, has been the process of firing particle-loaded rockets into the sky and spraying chemicals from airplanes in an attempt to boost rainfall in drier regions of the world.
But these methods aren’t safe or inexpensive enough to be considered viable in the long term. In order to change that, a new, one of it’s kind drone, called the “Sandoval Silver State Seeder” has been built by manufacturer Drone America to help scientists test unmanned cloud seeding on a large scale.
This drone was recently tested over the skies over Nevada, where it become the first fixed-wing unmanned aircraft to successfully deploy a cloud seeding payload. The drone flew for about 18 minutes, at an altitude of 400 ft (122 m), deploying two silver-iodide flares in the process.
Many countries like, China, India, Australia, USA etc have been know to use different ways of getting silver-iodide in order to trigger rainfalls. But their methods of deployment have been questionable when it comes to efficiency.
Now that drones are beginning to prove their mettle in doing the job, this process could potentially become a lot cheaper and safer than before. The Desert Research Institute (DRI), which is carrying out the research has already gained approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for further testing of its aircraft at higher altitudes of up to 1,200 ft (365 m).
If successful, these tests would pave the way for a new wave of drones which could be instrumental in changing how we interact with weather. We will keep you updated about the progress as it happens.