Researchers and aviators in Nevada completed the first successful test flight of a drone designed to bring rain to drought-stricken regions. The flight, which took place last week at an FAA-approved test site in Hawthorne, Nevada, was an 18-minute test of the ‘Sandoval Silver State Seeder,’ an unmanned aerial vehicle with an 11-foot wingspan designed to deploy rain-causing silver iodide into clouds.
The Seeder only managed an altitude of 400 feet and didn’t cause any precipitation, but the project lead still deemed it “a tremendous accomplishment for the state of Nevada and everyone involved.”
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Chief engineer Amber Broch echoed the sentiment:
[The flight] shows the tremendous potential to use unmanned systems as tools for environmental science and innovative natural resource applications.
Cloud-seeding, while futuristic-sounding, has actually been used successfully in the past. You may recall silver iodide was pumped into clouds during the Beijing Olympics to clear the skies of smog before the opening ceremonies.
Researchers want to take a similar approach to tackling drought-stricken regions in the US and the Sandoval Silver State Seeder, and others like it, could provide substantial benefits to areas of California and the Southwest that are undergoing extended periods of severe drought.