Those who enjoy kitschy, super-hero movies of the 80’s, may recall the classic Superman III, in which Richard Pryor somehow (never explained) uses satellites to control the weather (and that wasn’t even the biggest plot hole).
Fast forward to 2014: Drones may soon be capable of bringing rain to parched and thirsty lands through a process known as cloud seeding.
According to a recent article at AccuWeather, the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nev. may be able to deploy drones in a weather modification process that disperses chemicals such as silver iodide, potassium iodide and dry ice into the air to promote condensation and eventually rain.
Because airborne cloud seeding with conventional aircraft can quickly become expensive, DRI Director of Weather Modification Activities Jeff Tilley told AccuWeather that using UAVs could be much more cost effective.
“You can very quickly go through a budget for a year’s supply of fuel during one storm if you’re not careful. Fuel is expensive, pilots are expensive and often in a storm you have to go up and down multiple trips. The smaller size of the drones, and the fact they are not manned, provides potential opportunities for drones to fly below cloud base and seed there as well as at cloud top.”
Tilley added that the state of Nevada could reap a multi-billion dollar revenue stream from the emerging technology. The Reno-based initiative is one of six such test sites authorized by the FAA.
In a similar report at FastCoexist.com, Tilley noted that his research team would be investigating “a number of aspects of the program–like the inclusion of environmental sensors, for example, or how best to respect privacy concerns that would naturally arise from having unmanned aircraft zipping above residential areas.”
The Nevada program has alarmed conspiracy theorists, who view the program as some kind of precursor to “weather wars.” Although not backed by any actual evidence, “chemtrail” conspiracy site Intellihub warns: “Make no mistake, weather wars have already begun. You see, typically this type of technology was always made exclusive to the military, but now we will see how it plays out in the public domain.”
Sounds like a great plot for the next Superman sequel.
BONUS: Want more Superman III fun?: To hear an amazing, hilarious deconstruction of Superman III, check out the podcast How Did This Get Made.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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