Unmanned aircraft could track Hawaii hurricanes, help marine life


By Melvin Givens, Digital Editor

Could the next Hurricane or waterspout near Hawaii be tracked by an unmanned aircraft?

NOAA’S Office of National Marine Sanctuaries launched a test to investigate whether that could be the future for the islands.

Officials tested the integration of two unmanned systems in the Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Sanctuary. One was a liquid wave glider and the other an unmanned aircraft with a camera similar to a drone.

“Wave gliders have sensors and they can be out there for two years at a time. They relay information and then we can launch a UAF to investigate and take pictures that interest us,” said Matt Pickett of NOAA.

NOAA says the combined technology could help with marine life in distress, marine surveys and weather events.

Pickett says the unmanned technology could save taxpayers thousands of dollars because helicopters and airplanes with biologist are expensive to run.

NOAA has been using the unmanned aircraft and unmanned surface vehicles for a couple of years, but this is the first time the two have been tested together.


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