Cheap drones are used to gather information in dangerous environments.
New drones made from disposable materials offer an inexpensive option for collecting data in high-risk environments—like measuring the speed of a wildfire or the temperature of a volcano.
After use, the drones are left to decompose wherever they land.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been using disposable and expendable unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to track high-impact weather such as tropical cyclones and hurricanes. Because of their small size, UAS can also monitor marine sanctuaries and other protected ecosystems without human interference.
“We want to get the cost as low as possible, so we use these instead of manned aircraft,” said Robbie Hood, the UAS program director for NOAA. “We can put them in dangerous situations, so if we do lose them, we haven’t lost human life.”