The use of ‘rain drones’ to kickstart storms is being explored by the US government. There are a number of benefits associated with using such drones; including that they can be used in case of emergencies, and their use could save lives.
The drones were initially designed to be used by the army, but it was noticed that they can cause rain when used correctly.
In Alaska, a drone is being used for its second attempt at kickstarting a storm. The device, known as ‘The Thunderstorm Solar Drone’ was created by Battelle Energy in partnership with NASA and the US Department of Energy. The machine is being used to kickstart a natural storm – as opposed to creating one from scratch, which may be possible in the future.
Heavy rainfall can cause problems such as flooding and landslides, but drones could help with this process. Their use will make it easier for rainmakers – such as farmers who need rain before they can grow crops – to get the precipitation they require.
Farmers used to employ people with buckets who would try and kickstart storms, but this method was flawed as it generally did not work. The drones are able to target clouds precisely by using GPS, which will give farmers more control over how much rain is produced.
They may also be able to save money, as it is estimated that rainmakers would be paid between $100-$300 per hour. People are less likely to tolerate this cost now due to the recent recession, and by using drones they can cut back on expenses.
The use of these drones has been criticized due to safety fears, but NASA believes these concerns are overblown. These thunderstorm drones have been used in North Dakota, and so far they have been deemed a success.
Who is behind this?
The US government are overseeing the use of these drones. The Department of Energy hopes that using them will allow the US to be more self-sufficient in terms of energy, and it may also help to boost employment levels.
The Thunderstorm Solar Drone was launched last month, when an attempt was made to kickstart a storm using the drone in North Dakota. It was only able to produce slight rainfall, and there is still some work to be done on the machine before it can successfully kickstart storms.
Battelle Energy have created an additional Rainmaker Drone which is set for use later this year. The two drones were originally designed by NASA as a way to study cloud formation, and it was found that they could also be employed for weather modification purposes.
The NASA drones have been in use since last year, when the National Science Foundation hired them as an attempt to increase rainfall over California. The drones were initially met with some opposition due to their military connection, but many people have changed their minds as some of the benefits have become clear.
The technology is still in its infancy, and it could be decades before anything concrete comes from this idea. People are excited about these drones due to their potential to control the weather, but it may take a long time for them to produce much rain.