Published: June 1, 2016

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), often called drones, serve an expanding number of recreational, commercial, military and scientific uses. Researchers at CU-Boulder developed a UAS called Tempest that’s meant for tough duty — flying into the heart of extreme storms called supercells to assess them in all their fury. Battery-powered and auto-piloted, Tempest can measure temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and atmospheric pressure — and may one day help identify emerging tornadoes. 

Drones Infographic

Top Speed: 100 mph
Maximum wind speed Tempest has encountered so far: 60 mph 
Weight: 12-15 lbs, depending on payload 
Made of: Carbon fiber, wood, fiberglass
Where Tempest rests: RECUV Fabrication Lab Systems Integration Lab or Indoor Flight Lab at CU-Boulder 
Manufactured by: Skip Miller Models, Boulder 
Battery type: Lithium
Maximum flight duration per charge: 60-90 minutes, depending on weather conditions 
Number of Tempests currently owned by CU-Boulder: Three 
Tempest experts at CU-Boulder: Brian Argrow and Eric Frew 

Supercells: Supercells are an extreme type of rotating thunderstorm that can generate tornadoes 

Why more information aboutsupercells is valuable: Predicting whether they’ll lead to tornadoes could aid disaster preparations