Oklahoma Experts Say Unmanned Aircraft Could Help in Severe Weather

Area experts met in Broken Arrow Friday to discuss further development of unmanned aircraft technology and its impact on severe weather tracking.About 200 experts in academia, industry, and government met at NSU in Broken Arrow."Unmanned aircraft are good for a couple of reasons. Anytime you have something that's dull, dirty, or dangerous, and this really falls into a couple of those categories," said OSU Aerospace Engineering Professor Jamey Jacob.He said unmanned aircraft is not often used in severe weather tracking but could be very helpful in monitoring events like wildfires and tornadoes."In particular, what we want to do is get that warning time from currently around 10 to 15 minutes up to an hour. So, we have a lot of warning time before a tornado hits an area," Jacob said.Tactical Electronics is a special enforcement and intelligence services company based in Broken Arrow. Executive Vice President Ben Kimbro said Oklahoma is on the forefront of this type of technology. He said Tactical Electronics is open to learning more about unmanned aircraft's role in weather surveillance and possibly getting involved."I've always said that if you wanted to see tornadoes in their native habitat, Oklahoma's perhaps the best place on earth to do that. So, certainly we're reaching out to academic partners in meteorology to see where we might be able to be a useful partner to them," Kimbro said.Jacob said experts aim to eventually make the technology affordable to volunteer fire departments to give them a better idea of how wildfires move and how to enhance safety.Unmanned aircraft has other civilian applications, like agriculture and oil and gas.
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