Threats of destructive hurricanes can now be lessened with this new technology. Researchers at the UC San Diego have developed a strategy for building and coordinating scores of balloons with sensors that will help for real-time hurricane forecast.
Hurricanes are rapidly rotating storm systems which can bring heavy rains, deadly winds and tornadoes. It is considered as the destructive storms on the Earth. Hurricane Katrina which hit US in 2005 was recorded as the most catastrophic natural disaster in US history, which claimed 1,800 lives and destroyed $108 billion properties. In 2012, 117 people were killed and $65 billion was damaged due to Hurricane Sandy, also in the US.
According to Science Daily, engineers at UC San Diego developed using control algorithms to help real-time hurricane forecasts by keeping sensor-laden balloons afloat in hurricanes for about a week. The technology promises low-cost and efficiency even at long distances.
With the use of GPS and cellphone-grade sensors, the balloons will form a swarm of robotic vehicles which can report the situation of the hurricane via satellite. This system could determine the position, humidity, pressure, temperature and wind velocity.
"The key idea of our large-scale balloon coordination strategy is to 'go with the flow,' commanding small vertical movements of the balloons and leveraging the strong vertical stratification of the horizontal winds within the hurricane to distribute the balloons in the desired fashion horizontally," said Bewley, according to UC San Diego.
The said technology also applies the control theory which is important in many engineering applications. Its basic principle is the measurement of the physical environment which will be coordinated in real time to get the desired effect. Control theory also made it possible for SpaceX rockets to do landings on barges at sea.
The balloons weights about 3 kg or 6.5 lbs. It is controlled by buoyancy and can survive in extreme conditions, making real-time hurricane forecasts possible.