Skip to main content

Make it rain: Nevada is experimenting with cloud-seeding drones to fight drought

As drought threatens much of the west coast, scientists are working to develop high-tech solutions to this very serious problem. One of these solutions combines drone technology with a meteorological strategy called cloud seeding. Last month, researchers successfully used an unmanned drone to execute a cloud seeding mission over the state of Nevada. Soon enough, cloud seeding drones could help to increase rainfall in drought-ravaged regions like Nevada and California.

The entire mission lasted about 18 minutes, and was completed at the Federal Aviation Administration’s official Unmanned Aircraft Systems test site. Flying at an altitude of about 400 feet, the drone deployed two silver iodide flares to demonstrate its ability to complete unmanned cloud seeding missions. Dispensing silver iodide, which has a crystalline structure similar to that of ice, is an effective way to induce freezing nucleation in clouds, which triggers condensation and encourages clouds to drop some of their moisture.

The drone that completed this first mission has a wingspan of just 11 feet and 10 inches, and weighs less than 55 pounds. This particular UAV was named the Sandoval Silver State Seeder, in honor of Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval’s dedication to the drone industry. The Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development poured a sizable amount of funding into the Desert Research Institute’s initiative.

Improved longevity and decreased program costs helped the Desert Research Institute choose the Savant drone for the project: “the Savant is the perfect vehicle to conduct this type of operation due to its superior flight profile, long flight times and its resistance to wind and adverse weather conditions,” said Drone America President and CEO, Mike Richards. With drones like this seeding clouds successfully, we could just weather-modify our way out of drought on the west coast.

Chloe Olewitz
Chloe is a writer from New York with a passion for technology, travel, and playing devil's advocate. You can find out more…
This AI cloned my voice using just three minutes of audio
acapela group voice cloning ad

There's a scene in Mission Impossible 3 that you might recall. In it, our hero Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) tackles the movie's villain, holds him at gunpoint, and forces him to read a bizarre series of sentences aloud.

"The pleasure of Busby's company is what I most enjoy," he reluctantly reads. "He put a tack on Miss Yancy's chair, and she called him a horrible boy. At the end of the month, he was flinging two kittens across the width of the room ..."

Read more
Digital Trends’ Top Tech of CES 2023 Awards
Best of CES 2023 Awards Our Top Tech from the Show Feature

Let there be no doubt: CES isn’t just alive in 2023; it’s thriving. Take one glance at the taxi gridlock outside the Las Vegas Convention Center and it’s evident that two quiet COVID years didn’t kill the world’s desire for an overcrowded in-person tech extravaganza -- they just built up a ravenous demand.

From VR to AI, eVTOLs and QD-OLED, the acronyms were flying and fresh technologies populated every corner of the show floor, and even the parking lot. So naturally, we poked, prodded, and tried on everything we could. They weren’t all revolutionary. But they didn’t have to be. We’ve watched enough waves of “game-changing” technologies that never quite arrive to know that sometimes it’s the little tweaks that really count.

Read more
Digital Trends’ Tech For Change CES 2023 Awards
Digital Trends CES 2023 Tech For Change Award Winners Feature

CES is more than just a neon-drenched show-and-tell session for the world’s biggest tech manufacturers. More and more, it’s also a place where companies showcase innovations that could truly make the world a better place — and at CES 2023, this type of tech was on full display. We saw everything from accessibility-minded PS5 controllers to pedal-powered smart desks. But of all the amazing innovations on display this year, these three impressed us the most:

Samsung's Relumino Mode
Across the globe, roughly 300 million people suffer from moderate to severe vision loss, and generally speaking, most TVs don’t take that into account. So in an effort to make television more accessible and enjoyable for those millions of people suffering from impaired vision, Samsung is adding a new picture mode to many of its new TVs.
[CES 2023] Relumino Mode: Innovation for every need | Samsung
Relumino Mode, as it’s called, works by adding a bunch of different visual filters to the picture simultaneously. Outlines of people and objects on screen are highlighted, the contrast and brightness of the overall picture are cranked up, and extra sharpness is applied to everything. The resulting video would likely look strange to people with normal vision, but for folks with low vision, it should look clearer and closer to "normal" than it otherwise would.
Excitingly, since Relumino Mode is ultimately just a clever software trick, this technology could theoretically be pushed out via a software update and installed on millions of existing Samsung TVs -- not just new and recently purchased ones.

Read more