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Thursday, 23 May 2013 14:35

Amid Disaster, Oklahoma Students Design Tornado Drones

Engineering students at Oklahoma State University designed drones that may someday collect new data about tornadoes, helping public safety agencies more accurately predict and plan for disaster. A giant tornado, at least one mile wide, wiped out neighborhoods as it moved through Oklahoma on Monday, May 20. While the student designs are only in the preliminary planning stage, with no firm schedule to move forward, the university’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is negotiating with its partners to settle on a possible multi-year project that could change tornado science and ultimately save lives.

The project, whose partners include the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Kentucky, Virginia Tech and the University of Oklahoma, now has several active drone projects in addition to the tornado project. A lot of their drone research is funded by the Department of Defense, said Oklahoma State University Professor Jamey Jacob, but there are a lot of applications for the use of drones in civilian airspace, too.