Scientific Studies New Unmanned Aircraft to Study Storm

When released, the movie "Twister" with actress Helen Hunt presented a fantastic sci-fi idea: send probes to determine which storms could become violent Deathly, but that is a reality.

Scientists at Oklahoma State University are developing and building drones fly them reinforced with Kevlar for the center of the strongest tornadoes and send data instantly to meteorologists and emergency personnel.

"We have all the necessary elements that make this the perfect place to conduct the study," said Stephen McKeever, secretary of science and technology in Oklahoma. "We have the best natural laboratory in the world."

Oklahoma is the heart of Tornado Alley and has emerged battered, but still standing, seven tornadoes with winds exceeding 200 mph - tied with Alabama with more storms figure recorded EF5.

The May 20 tornado in Moore, which killed 24 people, was one of those. The National Meteorological Center, with its laboratories and Storms Forecast Center, are headquartered in Norman, but studies are conducted across the state.

If all goes as planned, the drones detect University Tornado training data based on humidity, temperature and pressure collected as they fly by storm, critical details that could increase several times the advancement of weather forecasts .

The planes are also equipped to find answers to the most urgent questions meteorologists.

"Why a storm unleashes a tornado and not another and why a tornado becomes a EF1 and EF5 other a" asked Jamey Jacob, a professor at the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the University of Oklahoma.

The planes could operated about five years, estimate the designers, but there are limitations to the immediate use of technology, including regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration to determine in what areas these devices may be flown in U.S. airspace.

Agency regulations also require operators of those aircraft can see them physically at all times, limiting the range a few miles.

Scientists in the project seeking the same permissions as the armed forces, where operators do not have to watch the planes all the time and can see data sent via satellite.

The machines, which weigh about 50 pounds, are controlled by operators from a laptop or a tablet, at a fraction of the cost of manned aircraft and are more reliable than weather balloons sent to try and determine how it will progress a storm.