Mountain Drones, a company specializing in engineering UAVs, is testing a prototype model that deploys radar-laden drones to measure “snow-water” equivalency in the mountains.
States like Colorado and California, both of which have struggled with water-supply issues, rely on snow for 80 percent of their water during melting seasons, according to Mountain Drones co-founder Robert Blank.
“We can’t make it rain (or snow)… but what we can do is give them data to make better decisions about the water they will receive from snow,” Blank said. “Only recently did the drones become smart enough and the radar unit small enough to realistically achieve the goals of determining the amount of water in snow,” he added.
Blank said the company anticipates creating a network of swarm drones that can collect massive amounts of snowmelt data – data which, in turn, can help companies and governments make optimal decisions about how best to manage water supplies.
“We recognized a cry for help from both municipalities and multinational companies operating in countries that do not have the infrastructure to predict water supply. For example, companies that use any high volume of water like Coca Cola need to know beforehand that they are (or are not) going to receive X amount of water to sustain both their operations and the communities that support them. The financial risk is tremendous.”
And when it comes to flakes, Mountain Drones knows snow – in February, the startup received funding from the Telluride Venture Accelerator to develop a means to predict potential avalanche threats for the ski community as well as a method of delivering dynamite via drones to mitigate avalanche risks in certain areas.
“Water stress is only going to increase with the increasing population and higher demand. We are building in places that have very little water to begin with, so every drop matters. Without water, nothing else matters,” Blank said.
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.
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