Boston-based startup GreenSight is reporting a significant business breakthrough with the selection of its WeatherHive drone swarm atmosphere sensing tech for prototype development by the US Air Force (USAF) and Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).
GreenSight was one of five companies selected by the DIU and USAF’s Weather Systems Branch to develop a prototype of its nano drone-based system to improve forecasting capabilities by deploying UAVs directly into the atmosphere for measurement. WeatherHive craft can cover up to 50 square miles per flight, and generate a dense 3D cube of data with better predictive results. Once the platform has been fully tested and readied for production status, it will be considered for procurement by a range of US government agencies.
GreenSight calls the WeatherHive approach unique in its ability to directly sample and measure atmospheric conditions over very large areas with reduced operational costs.
Weather balloons, for example, are limited to collecting data in a single, ascending flight path and can only be used once. Aircraft, meanwhile, are prohibitively expensive to permit their deployment for forecasting purposes over vast zones.
Palm-sized WeatherHive nano drones, by contrast, are relatively cheap, reusable, and capable of flight over 10 miles before needing to dock for recharging. The automated UAVs weigh just 150 grams, and can be deployed in the dozens or hundreds, depending on the size of the area being measured.
The portable stations enable data gathering for forecasting in even remote spots, while their diminutive size allows use in contested areas to provide military leaders with more solid information about approaching weather conditions.
In civilian scenarios, GreenSight says its WeatherHive drones can produce much more accurate models for predicting tornado formation, severe storm behavior, wildfire movement, and hurricane paths. It calls those capabilities increasingly important in an era where severe weather conditions already cause considerable property damage, injuries, and deaths every year – and are likely to increase amid global warming.
The company has previously worked with over 100 government agencies and private companies in developing robotic and artificial intelligence-enhanced solutions for a variety of uses. Now the DIU has shortlisted GreenSight to adapt its WeatherHive drone approach for use by the USAF’s Weather Systems Branch – and possibly other US agencies from there.
“We are striving to develop and provide capabilities to the Air Force and across the (Department of Defense) that create not only an information advantage, but most importantly provide a decision advantage over near-peer competitors,” said John Dreher, Weather Systems Branch material leader, of its selection of GreenWave along with four other startups. “With the help of DIU, we’re accelerating the delivery of commercial weather sensing technology to meet the operational need.”