UF Lab Develops the Next Hurricane Hunters

The small airplanes and submarines were designed to send and collect data from hurricanes.

By Camila Bernal
|  Tuesday, Jun 4, 2013  |  Updated 10:25 PM EDT
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University of Florida

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The University of Florida has built tiny airplanes and subs, which they say could be “the next hurricane hunters.”

The planes, which were designed to fly into storms and collect data from hurricanes, were built in a way where they don’t get blown away despite flying over, under and through hurricanes, UF said.

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The devices are also able to navigate in the water and can be programed from a computer hundreds of miles away.

“Our vehicles don’t fight the hurricane; we use the hurricane to take us places,” Kamran Mohseni, a professor in the mechanical and aerospace engineering  department, said in an email statement.

The planes, which have not been named, cost about $250 each. The university said they are small and unlikely to cause damage.

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But despite their size, the vehicles are “smart” and able to send climate data, the university said.

Mohseni predicts that in about three years, and with proper funding, he will be able to test the small vehicles in real hurricanes.

He has also been inspired by jellyfish, which navigate similarly to a mechanical system. By taking their example he has been able to develop small submarines.

“With biomimicry, learning from what nature does,” Mohseni said. “You just sort of get amazed.”

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