4.1 CLOUD-MAP: Advancing Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics Through Unmanned Aerial Systems

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 8:30 AM
Room 350/351 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Phillip B. Chilson, Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and J. Jacob, S. Smith, and A. L. Houston

A team of four universities - Oklahoma State University (OSU), the University of Oklahoma (OU), the University of Kentucky (UK), and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (UNL) - have partnered under the moniker of CLOUD-MAP (Collaboration Leading Operational UAS Development for Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics) to develop integrated small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS) capabilities for enhanced meteorology and atmospheric physics measurements. The collaboration is being facilitated by a 4-year grant provided by the National Science Foundation. CLOUD-MAP represents an interdisciplinary team of researchers including atmospheric scientists, meteorologists, engineers, computer scientists, geographers, and chemists united under the banner of evaluating needs and developing advanced sensing and imaging, robust autonomous navigation, enhanced data communication, and data management capabilities required to use SUAS in meteorology and atmospheric physics. The team has evolved organically over the past decade under various sub-projects related to SUAS development; however, it was recognized that substantive progress and problem solving could not be achieved by simple pairings to achieve success. Hence the collaborative team was developed. Each partner brings crucial non-overlapping pieces of the puzzle, which will lead to project success and result in a stronger team alliance and new opportunities in the development of a smart science measurement system. This project will build on and unite the team members' existing expertise and capabilities in atmospheric and meteorological observations, SUAS development, and STEM outreach and education.

Among the questions driving the research are: How can local data acquired by SUAS be used to better understand larger weather phenomena? Can SUAS be used to measure large-scale patterns and trends found in the atmosphere? What advancements in operational requirements are necessary to provide routine capabilities and confidence to use SUAS as a meteorological diagnostic tool? To those ends, the main objectives of the project include: 1) Development a strong mentoring program and intellectual center of gravity in the area of UAS in weather; 2) Creation and demonstration of UAS capabilities needed to support UAS operating in the extreme conditions typical in atmospheric sensing, including the sensing, control, planning, asset management, learning, control and communications technologies; 3) Development and demonstration of coordinated control and collaboration between autonomous air vehicles; and 4) Development and actualization of UAS themed outreach in support of NSF's technology education and workforce development.

The purpose of the presentation is to provide an initial introduction of CLOUD-MAP to the meteorological community and encourage a collaborative exchange of ideas. The research team will implement extensive systems engineering, hardware-in-the-loop testing and validation, and field testing with collaboration partners, who could become end users of the technology.

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