As in all field work, drones operate subject to weather. The group lost several days to rain and high winds, but the flying robots themselves are surprisingly robust, Jacobs said onboard the Tatoosh, as the Puma circled in for a landing and splashed down on its belly just off the stern, wings detaching as they are designed to do.
Morgan grabbed the plane and hauled it back into the boat, ready for another run.
But on this summer day, it was old-fashioned technology that brought the expedition to an early halt. Dark smoke in the Tatoosh’s exhaust signaled bad news: an engine malfunction that would take more than a week to fix.
“They’re wonderful tools. They have the potential to change the way scientists do marine monitoring.”
©2013 The Seattle Times
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