Meteomatics, the weather intelligence and technology company that accurately forecasts the weather’s impact on the world’s leading businesses, has launched its first U.S. Meteodrone at GrandSKY aviation park at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.
According to Meteomatics the autonomous flight system is the nation’s first drone-based micro-weather service, able to fly up to 20,000 feet (6,100 meters) above the Earth’s surface. This enables it to close the significant meteorological data gap in the lower and mid atmosphere–regions that are not regularly or accurately observed by traditional weather sensing technology and radar.
Visibility at this level is critical for predictability and reliability in aviation, as well as business forecasting across industries. Meteomatics is working in partnership with commercial UAS (uncrewed aircraft system) aviation park GrandSKY, and TruWeather Solutions, which specializes in low altitude weather technology and data, to produce the nation’s first state-wide micro weather service in North Dakota.
Closing the Gap
Despite significant advancements, the current national weather observation network–which is made up of technology such as weather balloons, radar stations, aircraft and satellites–still lacks the data necessary to effectively detect and forecast weather in the low-level airspace between 50 – 20,000 feet (15 – 6,100 meters). This is where local weather phenomena, such as fog, precipitation, wind, hail, storms and fluctuating temperatures, are created.
This makes it incredibly challenging to reliably predict flying conditions for drones and other flight operators in areas where the Go/No-Go criteria is not clear. Across the country, this lack of visibility additionally affects businesses’ ability to accurately forecast supply chain, production, resource and energy needs that are directly dependent on constantly changing weather conditions.
Meteomatics’ collaboration with GrandSKY and TruWeather Solutions will result in the launch of the nation’s first state-wide micro weather service, designed specifically to eliminate this gap in visibility.
Approval to fly up to 9,000 feet
Meteomatics has developed a high-resolution forecast model for North Dakota that accounts for all of the weather details, data points and parameters within a given square kilometer. This model will power TruWeather’s decision analytics, enabling real-time weather forecasts that are nine times more granular than even the best available government services. This will equip GrandSKY’s Weather Operations Center with the most precise weather intelligence available so that it can detect weather phenomena that impact flight decision making, safety and scheduling. The Meteodrone launch and collaboration have the support of the U.S. Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, who has been largely responsible for making Grand Forks the UAS epicenter of the country.
Meteomatics is a Switzerland-based company that creates precision weather intelligence and analytics for any coordinate in the world, any time. Its Meteodrone can be operated manually from a remote Ground Control Station, or it can take off and land vertically on its own when paired with a Meteobase–the company’s autonomous drone station.
GrandSKY has received special Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to fly the Meteomatics Meteodrone up to 9,000 feet (most drones only have clearance to fly 400 feet). Meteomatics has developed an extremely high-resolution weather model for all of Europe, which it dubs the “EURO1k.” The company has now developed the North Dakota 1K model as the basis of its weather intelligence at GrandSKY and ultimately, across the entire state.
“The work we’re doing with GrandSKY and TruWeather Solutions showcases the real-world need for extremely accurate weather data, and how it can affect mission-critical decisions around the clock,” said Paul Walsh, CEO of North America at Meteomatics. “This isn’t just true of the aviation space; weather plays a huge role in how organizations across the world operate. We are proud of our new partnership, the light it will shine on the current gaps in visibility, and the opportunities that will open as a result of filling them.”
North Dakota Debut
The Meteodrone’s first U.S. home in North Dakota is marked by topography that contributes to many of the weather challenges experienced by the aviation, agriculture and energy industries, among others. The flat landscape allows weather systems to move quickly across the state and can lead to rapid changes in temperature and precipitation all of which pose a risk to Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations. Following its North Dakota debut, Meteomatics will continue its expansion within the U.S., and across industries, including energy, automotive, aviation, agriculture, insurance and supply chain.
“We pride ourselves on many firsts in the UAS field; this new micro-weather service will now be a first for the state and the country. More importantly, it will result in reduced risk and more flights from and around GrandSKY,” said Thomas Swoyer Jr., President of GrandSKY. “We’ve been working with an exceptional team to develop ‘first of its kind’ capabilities and processes here at GrandSKY. Meteomatics, TruWeather Solutions, Northern Plains Test Site and the 319th Reconnaissance Wing each brought unique skill sets to get this project where it is. Together, we’ve developed a robust weather data collection system, unlike anything else in the country, so we can bring high accuracy weather forecasts to GrandSKY.”