Weather Forecast


UND to study UAS safety in tropical storms

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.

“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.

Anna Burleson

Anna Burleson is the higher education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of South Dakota's Mass Communication program and is originally from Watertown, S.D. Contact her with story ideas or tips by phone, email or Twitter, all of which are listed below. Examples of her work can be accessed here.

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