The Raytheon/NOAA Coyote UAV team, including HRD researchers Dr. Joe Cione, Kelly Ryan, Dr. Altug Aksoy, Brittany Dahl and Dr. Jun Zhang, received the 2018 AviationWeek Laureate Award in the Defense category for Dual Use. AviationWeek’s Laureate Awards recognize the extraordinary achievements of individuals and teams in aviation, aerospace, and defense. Their accomplishments embody the spirit of exploration, innovation and vision that inspire others to strive for progress, change and leadership in aviation and aerospace.
In 2017, NOAA researchers deployed six Coyote unmanned aerial vehicles to obtain observations in Hurricane Maria. Launched from a NOAA WP-3D Orion hurricane hunter aircraft, the Coyotes flew directly into the storm, giving researchers an unprecedented view of Maria.
“Raytheon technology is enabling hurricane hunters to better understand storm behavior. Our Coyotes are delivering vital information that may ultimately improve hurricane models, which can help save lives,” said Dr. Thomas Bussing, Raytheon vice president of Advanced Missile Systems. “This Laureate award validates our financial investment along with the dedication and innovation of the Raytheon/NOAA team.”
Traditional weather instruments dropped from planes capture only a snapshot of storm behavior, but Coyote’s winged design enables it to linger and return to key areas of the hurricane to gather more data and transmit it near real time to researchers and forecasters. “We think unmanned technologies that explore dangerous and difficult-to-observe regions of the storm may improve our physical understanding, provide enhanced situational awareness and might ultimately improve the accuracy of hurricane intensity forecasts in the future,” said Dr. Cione, principal investigator of NOAA’s Coyote project. “The Coyotes we deployed in Hurricane Maria collected critical, continuous observations in the lower part of the hurricane, an area impossible to reach with manned aircraft.”
Coyote was first deployed in 2014, when NOAA launched four of the UAVs into Hurricane Edouard, a Category-3 storm. Scientists on board the aircraft received meteorological data in both the eye of the storm and the surrounding eye wall.