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UND to study UAS safety in tropical storms

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news Grand Forks, 58203

Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

Researchers at UND have received a $75,000 grant to study the safety of unmanned aircraft in tropical storms, the university said.

Gretchen Mullendore, a faculty member and thunderstorm expert in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences will work on the project with department Chairman Mike Poellot and a team of three students.

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“Most of the research about the hazards of thunderstorm systems to aviation has been done in the mid and northern latitudes, so we have clearly understood hazards and defined rules for pilots about how to avoid such storms,” Poellot said in a news release.

The researchers will use computer modeling to look at how unmanned aircraft systems react when flown in tropical storms.

The grant was awarded by Northrop Grumman Corp., a UAS technology research and development company and defense contractor. Among the UAS it makes are Global Hawks now stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base. The company is also slated to be the first tenant at the proposed Grand Sky UAS tech park at the base.

The research team will also look at satellite and radar data to analyze how tropical storms behave.

“They’re much different from the thunderstorms we experience in our part of the world,” Mullendore said in the release. “Part of the grant’s aim is to find out how to help aircraft, crewed or unmanned, avoid those hazards in the tropics.”

The Herald could not reach her or Poellot for comment Wednesday.

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