This post originally appeared on Droneblog.
[Editor’s Note: Drone operators will have access to many types of real-time data, including current and forecasted conditions.]
Today, The Weather Company, an IBM Business, announced that it’s working with AirMap to deliver real-time hyperlocal weather data directly to drone operators. The deal marks the company’s first in the drone space.
A little over a month ago, the FAA finalized Part 107 for small Unmanned Aircraft System to provide the first national, uniform regulations for commercial drone operations.
The rule requires remote pilots (drone operators) “to be familiar with aviation weather products” as “aviation weather sources could be a valuable resource for remote pilots that choose to use them. For example, a remote pilot conducting an operation in an area with quickly changing weather may wish to access weather information from an aviation weather source for the most up-to-date weather data to ensure that the small UAS operation will comply with the minimum visibility and cloud clearance requirements…” The Weather Company’s partnership with AirMap provides drone operators with just that.
While the final rule is only for visual line of sight operations, recent news has suggested that a future where companies can begin using drones to deliver products beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) is closer than one might think. 7-Eleven just successfully delivered a Slurpee via a drone last week, and yesterday, Zipline announced it will start delivering medical supplies in the U.S.
As we get closer to BVLOS operations, the availability of real-time weather data will be absolutely critical in the flight planning process.
“The availability of real-time hyperlocal weather data from The Weather Company will help today’s drone pilots avoid hazardous and severe weather, and will be absolutely critical for safe, efficient flight planning and operations of more autonomous, beyond visual-line-of-sight drones,” said Ben Marcus, CEO of AirMap and an airline transport rated pilot and flight instructor.
The Weather Company’s forecasting platform produces precise weather forecasts every fifteen minutes for 2.2 billion locations worldwide. Drone operators will gain access to real-time data such as current and forecasted conditions, including temperature, precipitation, pressure, cloud cover, and more. This high-performance, cloud-based platform provides an average of 20 million forecasts daily.
“The Weather Company is a leader in the global aviation industry, and we are thrilled to work with AirMap to help lead the way in the emerging drone aviation market, which is a natural extension of the value we already provide every day to major airlines and aviation business worldwide,” said Mark Gildersleeve, president of business solutions at The Weather Company. “As a result of this AirMap deal, we can help drone operators not only be in compliance with Part 107 regulations, but also be able to leverage precise and accurate hyperlocal weather data to help guide decision-making and help work towards the safety, efficiency, and performance of their unmanned aircraft.”