China’s new robotic submarine doesn’t just chase typhoons, it dives into them

china unmanned submarine weather rocket 191265 web
Siping Zheng

It might sound like something out of a techno-thriller, but it’s not: Scientists in China really have developed an unmanned submarine that is designed to travel into potentially deadly typhoons and other extreme weather types and fire off weather-monitoring rockets.

One of these “rocketsondes,” designed to perform weather analysis in situations that would prove challenging for weather balloons or human observers, was recently launched as a demo. The rockets contain instruments for recording accurate meteorological measurements at heights of up to 26,000 feet and then transmitting them to people on the ground using radio. The result of the test launch was described in a research paper published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.

“The unmanned semi-submersible vehicle is an ideal platform for marine meteorological environmental monitoring, and the atmospheric profile information provided by rocketsonde launched from this platform can improve the accuracy of numerical weather forecasts at sea and in coastal zones,” study co-author Jun Li, a researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in a statement. “Similar to Argo (the broad-scale global array of profiling floats that measures temperature/salinity in the ocean) which provides profiles of Thermohaline current, rocketsonde can provide profiles of atmospheric temperature, humidity, pressure and wind observations.”

This isn’t the first time that China has explored the possibilities posed by autonomous subs. Several years ago it was reported that the country was testing a fleet of advanced underwater drones with potential military applications in the South China Sea. These “sea wings” drones were reported to be capable of instantly relaying underwater data to the Chinese military. (Don’t worry if you’re concerned the United States is being left behind, though: The U.S. Navy has also actively investigated the potential of self-driving seagoing vessels.)

According to the creators of China’s latest meteorological rocket-firing drone sub, the hope is that it will be possible to provide more accurate weather readings during severe sea conditions in a way that’s both technically feasible and affordable. They are also busy developing a new generation of similar subs, capable of gathering even more useful data. This will include information such as water temperature, current velocity, and wave height and direction.

Smart Home

Power on and off: Kasa Outdoor Smart Plug by TP-Link brings weatherproof smarts

The Kasa Outdoor Wi-Fi Smart Plug grants remote control of two outlets in an IP-64 weather resistant housing. Simple and straightforward, this smart plug is a great fit for summer lighting.
Deals

Get cooking with a Masterbuilt meat smoker, now $230 off

Warm weather means it’s time to enjoy the great outdoors, but meat lovers know that spring and summer are prime cookout time. The Masterbuilt meat smoker – on sale from Walmart for $230 off – is an excellent way to prepare meat like a…
Emerging Tech

U.S., U.K. embrace autonomous robot spy subs that can stay at sea for months

Unmanned, autonomous robot spy submarines that are able to stay at sea for months at a time may be coming to both the United States and its ally across the pond, the U.K. Here's what we know so far.
Deals

Shark, Ecovacs, and Roomba robot vacuums get price cuts for spring

The weather's getting nice again, and we're all emerging from our winter-long hibernation. So it's time once again to also start on that spring cleaning you've been putting off. But who really wants to clean when you'd rather be outside? We…
Emerging Tech

Beresheet crash caused by manual command, but reflector device may have survived

Details are emerging about what may have gone wrong with spacecraft Beresheet's failed moon landing. A manual command was entered which led to a chain reaction. But NASA still hopes to salvage use of its Laser Retroreflector Array device.
Emerging Tech

The oldest type of molecule in the universe has been located at last

A milestone in the development of the early universe was the combination of helium and hydrogen atoms into a molecule called helium hydride. But strangely enough, this ancient molecule has never been detected in space before now.
Emerging Tech

The grid of the future will be powered by … giant subterranean bagpipes?

In order to transition to a more renewable-focused energy system, we need to scale up our grid storage capacity --- and our existing methods aren't going to cut it. Could compressed air be the key?
Emerging Tech

Mercury’s wobble as it spins reveals that it has an inner solid core

Scientists have long wondered what the inside of Mercury looks like, and they now have strong evidence that the planet has a large and solid metallic core. The data for the new findings was collected by the now-defunct MESSENGER mission.
Emerging Tech

Gravitational forces at heart of Milky Way shaped this star cluster like a comet

Hubble has captured the stunning Messier 62 cluster. The cluster is warped, with a long tail which stretches out to form a shape like a comet. It is thought this distortion is due to Messier 62's proximity to the center of the galaxy.
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?
Emerging Tech

Troubleshooting Earth

It’s no secret that humans are killing the planet. Some say it’s actually so bad that we’re hurtling toward a sixth major extinction event -- one which we ourselves are causing. But can technology help us undo the damage we’ve…
Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.
Emerging Tech

Climeworks wants to clean the atmosphere with a fleet of truck-sized vacuums

Using machines that resemble jet engines, Climeworks wants to fight climate change by extracting CO2 from thin air. The gas can then be sold to carbonated drink and agriculture companies, or sequestered underground.
Emerging Tech

How 3D printing has changed the world of prosthetic limbs forever

When he was 13 years old, Christophe Debard had his leg amputated. Here in 2019, Debard's Print My Leg startup helps others to create 3D-printed prostheses. Welcome to a growing revolution!