This Kickstarter campaign plans to send a a drone into the heart of a tornado
Each year, in the United States alone, 60-80 people die from tornadoes, often because they did not receive proper warning or did not take adequate shelter.
Tornadoes are notoriously hard to study, because it’s hard to get close enough and live to tell the tale.
But a group of Atlanta based engineers launched a Kickstarter campaign on Oct 2, with an ingenious idea: send a UAV, or drone, into the heart of a tornado, with specially equipped sensors to record barometric pressure, temperature, and relative humidity. Each data point will be related to a specific GPS coordinate, including elevation.
Thus, meteorologists will be able to get very accurate information, not to mention video footage, of what goes on inside a tornado as it wreaks its path of destruction. According to the project’s founders, this information will enable better prediction of tornadoes, potentially saving lives and property.
An eye on the eye
“The first MRI of a tornado,” the campaigners call it.
The drone itself is in the shape of a delta wing style aircraft, allowing it to reach high speeds but maintain control in high wind environments. But just in case the drone doesn’t survive contact with the tornado, its sensor package is surrounded by a thick polycarbonate case, allowing for great impact resistance as well as superb electrical transmission. It functions like the “black box” on a commercial airliner.
Beyond these features, the engineers indicate that they need gas money to chase tornadoes wherever they may appear. While tornadoes do occur in states like Georgia, they are most frequent in Texas and Oklahoma. “With your help,” they write, “we can assist meteorologists in issuing better tornado warnings, and engineers in building more reliable structures.”
According to The Atlantic Monthly, Atlanta is home to about 500 startups, with Georgia Tech at their center. The university has created the Advanced Technology Development Center, as well as VentureLab, which helps create companies out of professors’ research. ATDC is the longest-lived startup accelerator in the United States.
As for the Siren Project, so far their Kickstarter campaign has raised. $918 from 16 backers. Let’s hope they can kick up some more dust.