NOAA is predicting clear skies for a new drone program the agency rolls out this week.
In a media statement, the agency announced the launch of the Unmanned Systems Operations Program. “The new program will promote the safe, efficient and economical operation of unmanned systems NOAA uses to collect high-quality environmental data for the agency’s science, products and services.”
“Unmanned airborne and maritime systems are transforming how we conduct earth science at NOAA,” said retired Navy Rear Adm. Timothy Gallaudet, Ph.D., deputy NOAA administrator. “Our new Unmanned Systems Operations Program will help us dramatically increase the application and use of these technologies in every NOAA mission area.”
NOAA drones – dubbed UxS – are sensor-equipped and can operate autonomously or are remotely piloted. NOAA currently uses UxS for seafloor and habitat mapping, ocean exploration, marine mammal and fishery stock assessments, emergency response, and at-sea observations that improve forecasting of extreme events, such as harmful algal blooms and…