Back in December 2016, Amazon executed its first customer delivery by drone in the United Kingdom. Now, as Amazon, and other large retailers, aim for widespread deployment of drones for the delivery of goods to consumers, it is increasingly clear that advanced weather data is vital for ensuring that these delivery drones can fly weather-sensitive missions safely and efficiently. While weather is just one of the challenges commercial drones will face, in addition to things like birds and other drones, (which will require advanced navigation systems and a lot of coordination, particularly since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that commercial drones will reach 1.6 million by 2021), weather data will in many ways dictate the speed and scope of commercial drone deployment. Advanced weather data can be leveraged for commercial drone operations for:
Pre-Flight Planning: Drone operations will require operators to forecast weather with hyper-local precision to determine where the sky will be clear, rainy or snowy, or, even more importantly, where severe weather is happening. With more advanced weather data, drone operations will be safer and more efficient. Additionally, businesses in oil and gas, construction, government, energy, and other weather-sensitive industries can leverage advanced weather data for safe site surveying, better response to disasters in emergencies and protection of their investments.
In-Flight Operations: Weather data impacts a drone’s path direction, flight elevation, mission duration and other in-flight variables. Wind-speed is a particularly critical component for smooth drone missions. For example, if there is significant wind or rain, a drone doesn’t operate effectively especially if the drone is trying to capture video or photograph –the video or photographs could be unusable with too much wind or rain.
Post-Flight Analysis: Data collected from drone missions paired with weather data can help operators understand how weather impacts certain sites and areas over time. Advanced weather data can help to not only guide commercial drone navigation, but some drones themselves will become microscopic sensors to detect hyper-local, micro-accurate weather patterns down to the minute.
Overall, by analyzing advanced weather data, commercial drone operations will improve and also help to ensure future drone mission success.