The Edge

These autonomous sailing drones help researchers forecast extreme weather

These autonomous drones can help researchers forecast extreme weather

Oceanic researchers are turning to autonomous sea drones to help them forecast extreme weather and understand the world's changing weather patterns.

The 23-foot-long drones are made by Bay Area start-up Saildrone. Each Saildrone can be outfitted with a number of different sensors that it uses to gather and transmit real-time measurements on metrics including temperature, wind, humidity, solar radiation and weather patterns.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is gathering data from two Saildrones that are heading back to California from a voyage across the Pacific Ocean. The goal is to measure the accuracy of the data compared with conventional methods.

The drones could eventually bolster NOAA's aging buoy system that's been used to monitor weather data since the 1980s.

In the past, the organization used the Saildrones to track marine life in the Arctic.

Boeing's Liquid Robotics makes a similar ocean drone that's used by the government and companies to collect ocean and weather data.