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Going 'hyperlocal' to improve safety

Thales is supporting Swiss-based weather data specialist Meteomatics in the development of reliable and accurate weather data for applications in key markets where 'hyperlocal' weather forecasts can improve safety and reduce operating costs.

Weather phenomena such as fog, freezing rain, thunderstorms, heavy wind and drop in temperature can significantly affect safety and productivity in many sectors, ranging from aviation, to renewable energy and transportation. Current weather models have difficulties in measuring this type of phenomena, due to insufficient coverage of measurement data in the mid and lower levels of the atmosphere. As climate change increasingly leads to more extreme weather conditions, such data takes on even greater significance.

Combining meteorological, computing and drone expertise, Meteomatics develops high-resolution forecasts, which excel in lower atmosphere environments. The company has developed a unique model of “hyperlocal forecasting” which aggregates existing national weather data with its own drone data measurements to provide very precise measurements of the mid and low atmosphere. 

The company’s “Meteodrones” can be operated in weather conditions such as fog, low stratus, heavy wind, thunderstorms or even icing conditions, where traditional remote sensing instruments fail to deliver reliable data. The drones can be operated as mobile units but also as part of a permanent installation, or “Meteobase” system. Meteobases are docking pods that enable automatic and simultaneous operation of multiple drone systems. 

The potential for application in weather-dependant sectors is significant, as reliable weather forecasts and accurate meteorological information can help minimise risks, increase safety and reduce operating costs. In Thales’s case, this could include air traffic management, as well as radar reconnaissance and optimisation of control and signalling for railways.

Several pilot studies have successfully demonstrated the positive effect of mobile Meteomatics drones on the quality of high-resolution local fog and storm forecasts. 

In the coming months, the company will deploy several automated Meteobase systems in Eastern Switzerland to further test the orchestration of an automated Meteodrone network, and feed the new data operationally into Meteomatics’ high-resolution weather model.