Can Your UAVs Make It Rain? The Drones in Dubai Can.
When you live in the desert, you quickly learn the value of rain. Live there long enough and you start wondering how you can improve the odds of getting the precious liquid to fall from the sky—onto your crops, into your reservoirs, through your pipes, and out of the faucets in your home. That thirst—and thirst for a solution—is what led the citizens, scientists, and aviation engineers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), along the Persian Gulf, to start tinkering with their drones.
Could modified UAVs prompt the skies to literally rain down on the 3 million-plus Dubaians during summer months, when temperatures routinely reach 125-degrees Fahrenheit (51 degrees Celsius)? It seems the answer is: Yes.
In a region that typically gets around 4 inches of rainfall annually (about 10 centimeters), the scientists at the National Center for Meteorology, collaborating with scientists at the UK’s University of Reading, went to work modifying their UAVs to shoot laser beams into the clouds and charge them with electricity. The result forces water droplets together creating larger raindrops that fall from the sky. Basically, the Emiratis have electrified the air and created rain. Rather than seed the clouds, as has been done since 1923, the Emiratis are shocking them into precipitation.
Although some critics worry about their drone-prompted rain could cause flooding, it would seem that UAV operators will be able to flip the off switch as easily as they flipped it on provide a measured, and much needed, response to the country’s water supplies.