The Taiwan Typhoon and Flood Research Institute on Wednesday unveiled its Small Uncrewed Aircraft System to be used in the institute’s typhoon research program later this year.
The institute displayed one of its six uncrewed aerial vehicles purchased from Australia in 2015 at prices varying between NT$2.6 million and NT$4 million (US$81,812 and US$125,865) depending on engine variants.
With a maximum continuous flying time of 10 to 18 hours, the drones are equipped with sensors to detect temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind speed and direction.
The aircraft, designed to meet the demands of the institute, are to help researchers better track and analyze typhoon activity near Taiwan.
The system can also be equipped with a variety of specific payloads, including infrared, high-definition survey, mapping and meteorology equipment.
“The drone had a trial run during Typhoon Nepartak last year and the information it collected has proven invaluable to our team,” institute assistant technician Chung Chi-jun (鍾吉俊) said at an expo at the National Taiwan University Hospital International Convention Center.
Australia has been working on the application of uncrewed aircraft for meteorological use for several decades, but Taiwan became the first nation to customize the aircraft for typhoon research, Chung said.
“We carried out our first test research with an uncrewed aircraft in 2005, but the project was later scrapped because of strict air traffic controls imposed in the aftermath of global terrorism,” he said.
Wednesday’s unveiling also marked the beginning of the institute’s plan to adopt the drones for typhoon research.
“The only problem is our restricted airspace,” Chung said, adding that the institution is in talks with Japan and the Philippines to use their airspace for typhoon research.
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