Meteodrones

Meteorological Data From the Atmospheric Boundary Layer

Bridge the meteorological data gap in the Earth's lower atmosphere with Meteodrones.

  • Able to fly anytime anywhere
  • Cost-effective
  • Sustainable

Meteodrone Partners

We partner with top-tier global collaborators, leveraging the advanced capabilities of Meteodrones to enhance local weather forecasting.

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A New Era of Precision in Meteorology

All over the world, severe weather conditions such as thunderstorms, strong winds, fog, and hail significantly impact the economy and public safety. To date, weather models have been limited by a lack of sufficient observations from the atmospheric boundary layer, hindering accurate predictions of these local weather phenomena. Weather drones present a solution to bridge this data gap.

The specially developed and patented Meteodrones offer an innovative method to gather weather data from both the lower and middle atmosphere. Equipped to capture high-resolution, direct measurements of critical meteorological elements such as temperature, humidity, air pressure, and wind speed, Meteodrones mark a significant leap forward in meteorological science. Incorporating these measurements into weather model calculations can demonstrably improve weather forecasts.

Challenges of Weather Data Collection

The boundary layer, the lowest layer of the atmosphere, is where the majority of our weather occurs. Everyday weather conditions are influenced by a multitude of variables and factors that are difficult to capture. Consequently, the data currently fed into weather models often lacks the comprehensiveness needed for precise weather predictions.

Weather Stations

Traditionally, weather data has been collected using weather balloons and ground-based weather stations. However, these stations, with their fixed locations and proximity to the Earth's surface, have significant limitations in capturing atmospheric measurements. Being grounded, they are unable to assess conditions in the higher regions of the boundary layer.

Satellites

Satellites represent another method for collecting weather data. They are particularly effective in gathering information on water vapor and cloud formation. However, satellites are less suitable for measuring parameters like temperature, humidity, or wind. Additionally, satellite data is often collected intermittently and may lack the necessary quality and resolution for integration into weather models. While weather satellites are instrumental in collecting atmospheric observations and have significantly enhanced weather forecasting, they fall short in accurately profiling wind fields in the colder, lower atmosphere.

These data are crucial for industrial applications and for initializing weather models. Moreover, the presence of clouds can obstruct satellites from capturing measurements beneath them. Consequently, satellites offer limited coverage of the planetary boundary layer, leading to gaps in observational data.

Aircraft

Aircraft are another means of collecting weather data, frequently deployed during storm events. However, their operation entails significant costs. Additionally, piloting an aircraft into a storm poses considerable risk to human life.

Weather Balloons and Radiosondes

Weather balloons carrying radiosondes can ascend to much higher altitudes. However, they come with their own set of drawbacks. Lacking controlled navigation, they are at the mercy of wind currents and cannot return to their launch points. This often leads to coverage of unintended areas, making it challenging to collect consistent and targeted weather data in the form of a vertical profile or through vertical atmospheric surveys.

Moreover, the production of these radiosondes can be costly. They also require helium for operation, a natural resource that is becoming increasingly scarce. Post-deployment, radiosondes frequently drift as far as 250 km from their launch sites due to wind patterns, which often leads to the loss of the equipment.

Meteodrones: a Game Changer

What Are Weather Drones?

Weather drones are specifically engineered for meteorological purposes. Operating within the Earth's lowest atmospheric layer, known as the boundary layer, they are equipped with sensors for weather data collection, gathering key atmospheric data such as temperature, humidity, and wind conditions. The information collected by these drones is instrumental in enhancing the accuracy of weather forecast models, providing a more comprehensive understanding of atmospheric dynamics.

What Makes Meteodrones So Special?

Made in Switzerland

Meteodrones are a product of Swiss precision and innovation. Entirely designed and engineered in St. Gallen, Switzerland, the development process of Meteodrones is an in-house endeavor from conception to final product.

Mobile weather station

We call our Meteodrones "the future of radiosondes." Each Meteodrone functions like a mobile weather station, offering numerous benefits over conventional radiosondes. Unlike these probes, which often take measurements in an uncontrolled manner due to their flight paths, our Meteodrones are capable of precise, controlled operations. They can be manually directed on-site or operated remotely, providing flexibility in data collection. This allows the Meteodrones to hover over a specific location or venture into remote areas where traditional weather stations are absent and other forms of measurement are unfeasible.

Cost-Effective and Sustainable

Meteodrones serve as a more sustainable and cost-effective method of collecting atmospheric data compared to radiosondes, as they can be deployed and reused as often as needed. Additionally, their robust construction enables operation in a variety of weather conditions, making them highly effective in capturing a wide range of local weather phenomena. This reusability and versatility underscore Meteodrones' role in promoting environmentally responsible meteorological practices.

How Do Meteodrones Enhance Weather Forecast Accuracy?

Data Collection up to 6km

Meteodrones can ascend up to 6 kilometers above ground to collect atmospheric weather data. Our Meteodrones can efficiently gather data both during the day and night, which is then seamlessly integrated into weather models for processing. This ensures that local weather data is consistently included in forecasts, resulting in more precise predictions.

Reliable and Continuous Weather Data

Meteodrones can remain stationary over a specific area for the entire duration of their flight. This capability allows for the continuous collection of atmospheric profiles. Furthermore, the practical design of Meteodrones, including replaceable batteries, enables immediate redeployment after a flight, ensuring an uninterrupted stream of weather data.

How Do Meteodrones Process Data?

The raw weather data is recorded at a data rate of 4 to 20 Hz, meaning at 4 to 20 measurements per second, and stored on the integrated SD card. After a flight with a Meteodrone, the weather data undergoes evaluation and processing. It is saved in various formats that facilitate meteorologists in integrating it into their respective weather models, including time-resolved representations. Once this additional data is incorporated into the model, it enhances the accuracy of the weather forecast within a radius of up to 50 km from the starting point of the measurement flight. These measurements significantly enhance the forecasts of phenomena critical for aviation, such as fog, thunderstorms, icing, and hail.

Drone Flying

Our Meteodrone in action in Switzerland.

Meteodrone Models

Our Meteodrones have been engineered to reach altitudes of up to 6 kilometers. Each model, with its distinct features, is tailored for specific applications, offering versatility and efficiency in various weather data collection scenarios.

The Meteodrone MM-641/SSE is designed to be smaller and lighter, allowing for higher-speed flights. This makes it ideal for rapid data collection and analysis.

On the other hand, the Meteodrone MM-670 (ML) is better suited for commercial use or reconnaissance missions. Its design allows for customization with various instruments to meet specific requirements, offering flexibility for diverse operational needs.

Sensors

  • Temperature
  • Pressure
  • Relative humidity
  • Dew point
  • Wind speed and direction

Transport Case

Both models come in an IP67-rated carrying case and include the Meteodrone, a Ground Control Station and its charger, tools, and spare batteries.

Ground Control Station

Each drone comes equipped with a Ground Control Station, which establishes a telemetry link with the drone. Launching the Meteodrone is simplified to a one-click action on the Ground Control Station. Upon activation, the drone ascends and immediately begins gathering weather data. This data is consistently transmitted back to the Ground Control Station, where it undergoes real-time analysis and is visually displayed. Such a setup not only provides instant insights into atmospheric conditions but also allows the pilot to continuously monitor the flight. The display clearly presents:

  • Relative position

  • Altitude and direction

  • Energy consumption

  • Current weather conditions

  • Wind conditions

The Ground Control Station also records key parameters on an SD card for detailed analysis. Similarly, the Meteodrone itself stores all collected weather data on an onboard SD card for easy retrieval and review.

Emergency Recovery System (ERS)

Additionally, the Meteodrone MM-670 is equipped with an Emergency Recovery System (ERS), essential for operations Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS). This system, which can be activated from the ground, includes parachute mechanisms to safeguard property, people, and the drone in case of emergencies such as engine failure or external interference.

Deicing Function

We have equipped our Meteodrones with a deicing function to address the risk of ice accumulation on the propeller blades, a common issue in conditions below 0°C with high humidity. It activates upon detecting icing conditions, heating the rotor blades to ensure safe operation. In selecting components, we prioritized robustness, ensuring functionality in temperatures as low as -45°C. The optimized frame design also renders the drone waterproof, making it suitable for use in various weather conditions, including rain and snow.

Additionally, the propellers have been adapted to withstand high wind speeds, enhancing flight stability and reliability. To enable operation in wind speeds of up to 50 knots, we have also upgraded the Meteodrone's airframe and drivetrain. Such improvements are essential for high-altitude flights.

Meteodrone MM-641/SSE
Meteodrone MM-641/SSE


Meteodrone MM-670
Meteodrone MM-670 (ML)


Meteodrone transport case
Robust IP67 transport case


Meteomatics Meteodrone Ground Station
Ground Control Station in night mode
Parachute system.
Meteodrone parachute system
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Meteobase — The home of our Meteodrones

The Meteobase — The Home of Our Meteodrones

Serving as the Meteodrone's "home base," the Meteobase is where it autonomously takes off, lands, and charges its battery.

As a ground station, the Meteobase provides local support for the operation of our Meteodrones. It functions as a communication hub, facilitating seamless interaction between the pilot and the drone while also serving as a control center for autonomous flights.

The Meteobase is a comprehensive system comprising a central computer that oversees various operational, control, and maintenance tasks for the drone.

Capabilities of a Meteobase

  • Monitoring and logging weather parameters at the deployment site.
  • Autonomously launching and landing a Meteodrone.
  • Serving as a charging station for the Meteodrone.
  • Offering real-time visual oversight of the drone's immediate surroundings thanks to strategically positioned cameras.
  • Maintaining an internal climate control system, incorporating heating and air conditioning, to uphold optimal environmental conditions for the Meteodrone, its electrical components and batteries.
  • Withstanding various weather conditions, being both waterproof and snowproof.
Meteobase: open with Meteodrone
Meteobase: open with Meteodrone


Meteobase: open with Meteodrone
Meteobase: open with Meteodrone

Nationwide Meteodrone Operations

With the Meteobase, our goal is to facilitate nationwide Meteodrone operations, significantly enhancing the precision of weather forecasts through autonomous Meteodrone missions. We envision a network of Meteobases, each designed to automate and remotely control Meteodrones. Ultimately, the Meteobase system will enable a single pilot to simultaneously operate up to 10 different drone systems remotely, at any time and from any location. This innovation is a step towards revolutionizing weather data collection and forecasting.

Read an article on the roll-out project of autonomous drone systems with Meteobase and Meteodrones in Switzerland.

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Meteodrone flying up to 6 km, above two different kinds of cloud layers.

Meteodrone Use Cases

Replacing Radiosondes

The main use case for Meteodrones lies in their ability to replace radiosondes in all areas where these devices are currently employed. Radiosondes have long been the go-to method for gathering atmospheric data, providing invaluable insights into temperature, humidity, pressure, and wind patterns at various altitudes. However, they come with inherent limitations.

Meteodrones offer a compelling alternative to traditional radiosondes, providing enhanced capabilities for atmospheric data collection. Their ability to operate in challenging environments, repeated usability, and autonomous navigation make them invaluable tools for researchers, meteorologists, and weather enthusiasts. As technology evolves, Meteodrones are expected to play a vital role in advancing atmospheric data collection and analysis.

We fly our Meteodrones operationally in Switzerland to collect data, gain meteorological insights and improve our high-resolution regional EURO1k weather model.

The following images show an interesting case of nighttime meteorological conditions. The white dashed lines show the flight tracks; the y-axis shows the altitude and the x-axis shows the time. The low temperatures, high humidity and weak winds near the ground indicate fog up to 1,000 m altitude.

A strong nocturnal jet is visible between 2,500 m and 3,000 m, bringing a dry layer of air into the atmosphere. At higher altitudes the wind is quite strong, up to ~40 knots.

Measurement profile: Wind speed and direction
Measurement profile: Wind speed and direction
Measurement profile: Realtive Humidity
Measurement profile: Realtive Humidity

How Our Customers Use the Meteodrone System

Meteodrones are currently being utilized worldwide in collaboration with several partners, including national meteorological services and armed forces. Here are some of our partnerships in the United States and Europe.

Partnerships in the United States

NOAA

To enhance tornado prediction accuracy, Meteodrones were deployed in November 2016 and May 2017 in Oklahoma, USA, covering over 140 km in more than 100 exploratory flights. These flights gathered crucial ground-level information, which was then integrated into a model. This integration allowed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to improve tornado forecasts.

GrandSKY Aviation Park

Since 2023, Meteomatics has been collaborating with GrandSKY aviation park in North Dakota to power the country's first micro-weather service using Meteodrone data and a high-resolution weather model. This partnership empowers the Weather Operations Center at GrandSKY to detect weather phenomena that directly affect flight decision-making, safety measures, and scheduling.

Partnerships in Europe

Switzerland

The combination of the Meteomatics EURO1k model with Meteodrone data proves invaluable in producing specific forecasts for phenomena such as fog formation, icing, thunderstorms, and lightning, especially for airspace surveillance. A notable example showcasing the positive impact of drone data can be seen in the DETAF project (Drone Enhanced Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts) conducted at Zurich Airport.

MAGDA Project

The MAGDA project, which is a part of the Horizon Europe program funded by the European Union and the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research, and Innovation. This project aims to enhance site-specific weather forecasts and provide irrigation advisories to proactively protect crops from severe weather impacts.

Ireland

Met Éireann, The Irish Meteorological Service, is interested in evaluating in evaluating the possibilities of complementing radiosonde measurements with Meteodrone measurements and potentially replacing them with Meteodrones in the long term.

Flight Permissions in Switzerland and Abroad

Meteomatics, a Swiss company, has received permission from the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) to fly Meteodrones "Beyond Visual Line of Sight" (BVLOS) in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. This means the drones can operate without the pilot's line of sight, including flying inside clouds, in fog, and at night, under certain conditions.

Meteomatics can also obtain flight approvals for Meteodrone demonstrations in most European countries, in collaboration with national flight authorities, and is willing to assist other organizations in obtaining approvals. Please note that each approval is subject to specific limitations in terms of area, altitude, and time period, depending on local requirements.

Dive Into Meteodrone Use Cases

Drone north dakota
Together with our partner GrandSKY, we launched our first Meteodrone system at the GrandSKY aviation park, located at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, along with the North Dakota 1K weather model.
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Drone flight ireland 2
Thanks to a cross boarder authorisation from the Irish aviation authority (IAA), the Meteomatics Meteodrone received an approval to fly up to 6 km during daytime.
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ETH 2022 BRANDED header image v2 min
Clouds are one of the main elements that regulate Earth’s climate. Understanding cloud microphysics is thus paramount to more precise climate projections. In this story, we explain how ETH Zurich’s researchers are using Meteodrones to conduct cloud seeding experiments to study cloud-aerosol interactions and precipitation events.
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Video Use Case: Atmospheric Research With Meteodrones

Anna Miller
Anna Miller
Doctoral student in atmospheric science
ETH Zürich
Meteodrones are reliable and easy to use. They have significantly advanced our research and enabled us to explore new possibilities in atmospheric measurement.

Cloud Seeding Experiments

Watch the video to learn how ETH Zurich’s researchers are using Meteomatics’ Meteodrones to conduct cloud seeding experiments to study cloud-aerosol interactions and precipitation events.

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Acquire a Meteodrone

Submit an inquiry to us and receive a bespoke offer tailored precisely to your requirements, regardless of the application.

Depending on your needs, you can tap into our expertise beyond the product and its accessories.

What else we offer:

  • Collaboration for a test flight.
  • Comprehensive training in Meteodrone operation.
  • Flight operation on your behalf as part of a joint project.
Meteomatics Meteodrone MM670

Meteodrone Demonstration

If you’re interested in demonstrations in Europe, read the article below to learn more about receiving flight authorization.

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Contact Us Now To Receive Unique Data From the Boundary Layer

Lukas Hammerschmidt – Chief Drone Officer
Dr. Lukas Hammerschmidt
Chief Drone Officer

Expert knowledge

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