This fleet of autonomous ‘saildrones’ use solar and wind power to collect data during a hurricane!

Saildrone, a maritime research company and “world leader in oceangoing autonomous surface vehicles,” has launched a fleet of saildrones to collect first-of-its-kind hurricane data via advanced sensors and AI technology.

It’s been said we know more about outer space than we know about the ocean. In the grand scheme of Earth, we might not know too much about the deep blue that surrounds us, but that doesn’t mean it can’t tell us about the rest of our world. Today, a fleet of five autonomous saildrones has been launched from Florida and the Virgin Islands by Saildrone, a maritime research company, to collect data on hurricanes, spending three months at sea where the fleet will compile the first hurricane research of its kind completed by ‘uncrewed’ surface vehicles (USVs).

With news regarding climate change and tropical storms flooding our timelines, our eyes and ears are more tuned in than ever in anticipation of new data. For decades, the ocean has provided scientists with the data necessary to understand climate change, hurricanes, carbon cycling, and maritime security.

The fleet of saildrones is comprised of solar and wind-powered USVs that acquire data on climate change and weather conditions through AI technology and over 20 advanced sensors, leaving a minimal carbon footprint while exploring international ocean waters. Amounting to around 1,500 pounds, each saildrone comes equipped with a photovoltaic sail that’s designed to keep each saildrone powered up as it sails right into the eye of a hurricane.

All in an effort to understand hurricanes and global weather events, for years Saildrone has been developing the technology necessary to map the ocean floor while measuring water temperature, salinity, chemical composition. Once programmed for navigation, the saildrones can sail autonomously from waypoint to waypoint.

During their voyage, the USVs remain within a user-defined safety corridor and are monitored by a Saildrone Mission Control operator. Spanning from Arctic waters to the Atlantic Ocean, saildrones have collected data on weather and climate science from waters all over the globe.

Designer: Saildrone

MIT scientist weaves smart fabric with electrical signal to monitor health and store digital memory!

MIT scientist Yoel Fink has worked on developing smart fabrics for longer than a decade. In 2010, Fink and some of his colleagues produced fibers that could detect audio. A first for smart fabric developments, the fiber could be woven into a fabric, which transformed it into a needle-thin, working microphone. Today, the team of scientists continues work on spinning fibers into the smart fabric but moves past analog capabilities towards a digital future, weaving fibers that carry continuous electrical signals into a piece of wearable smart fabric.

Published in a Nature Communications academic journal, Fink’s research suggests that the fibers carrying electrical signals could be woven into the wearable smart fabric for “applications in physiological monitoring, human-computer interfaces, and on-body machine-learning.” Incorporating those capabilities into smart fabric required first embedding hundreds of silicon digital chips into casting pre-forms before spinning that into a piece of wearable fabric.

Each string of flexible fiber reaches tens of meters in length, containing hundreds of intertwined, digital sensors that monitor temperature changes and store memory. Each digital fiber, for instance, can collect and store information on changing body temperatures, garnering real-time inference for the wearer’s activity throughout the day. In addition to tracking and collecting data on physiological measures, the smart fabric retains the information gathered and “harbors the neural pathways” necessary to understand that data and infer the future activity of the wearer.

Thin enough to slide through the eye of a needle, the smart fabric is woven with hundreds of laced digital chips that still remain undetectable to the wearer. Forming a continuous electrical connection, the textile fiber also weaves a neural network made up of 1,650 AI connections into the smart fabric, pushing the new development even further. Capable of collecting 270 minutes worth of changing body temperatures and storing a 767-kilobit full-color short film as well as a 0.48-megabyte music file, the smart fabric can retain all of this and store it for two months at a time without power.

Designer: Yoel Fink

Each string of fabric is intertwined with fibers that contain hundreds of digital chips to monitor body temperature and track memory devices.

When woven together, the fibers form a string of fabric thin enough to pass through the eye of a needle.

The fabric is thin enough that Gabriel Loke,  a Ph.D. student at MIT says, “When you put it into a shirt, you can’t feel it at all. You wouldn’t know it was there.”

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