Every day, 1800 radiosondes are sent into the atmosphere to collect data for weather forecasts. However, only 20% of these devices are retrieved worldwide, because they return to the ground at an unknown location. That means they are single-use.
To make them reusable, we developed R2HOME which is an autonomous paragliding robot that can be navigated to a precise landing point and thus the radiosondes can be easily recovered. R2HOME is sent up into the atmosphere with a helium balloon. At an altitude of 30 km, the balloon is released from the system, then the paraglider wing is deployed and steered to fly to the landing point.
On the 6th of July 2022, around 12 AM at Payerne in Switzerland took place the first high-altitude demonstration of the R2HOME system, and it was a full success.
After getting the « go for flight » from Skyguide (Air traffic regulation authorities in Switzerland) R2HOME rose up to 3500m (11400ft) under a weather balloon launched by MeteoSwiss with the help of the local staff. At this altitude it autonomously detached itself from the balloon before opening its paraglider wing and flying back to the launch site to land within five meters of the launch point.
About R2HOME (the startup): R2HOME is a startup founded by entrepreneur and microengineering student Yohan HADJI. Supported by EPFL with a Blaze grant and by the French Embassy in Switzerland R2HOME is looking forward to making radiosonde reusable. This will improve short term weather forecastings as well as long term climate change understanding while reducing the environmental impact of weather balloons used all over the world.