Field report: Deployment of a fleet of drones for cloud exploration

Hattenberger, Gautier ; Verdu, Titouan ; Maury, Nicolas ; Narvor, Pierre ; Couvreux, Fleur ; Bronz, Murat ; Lacroix, Simon ; Cayez, Grégoire ; Roberts, Gregory C.

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<p align=justify>Drones are commonly used for civil applications and are accessible to those with limited piloting skills in several scenarios. However, the deployment of a fleet in the context of scientific research can lead to complex situations that require an important preparation in terms of logistics, permission to fly from authorities, and coordination during the flights. This paper is a field report of the flight campaign held at the Barbados Island as part of the NEPHELAE project. The main objectives were to fly into trade wind cumulus clouds to understand the microphysical processes involved in their evolution, as well as to provide a proof of concept of sensor-based adaptive navigation patterns to optimize the data collection. After introducing the flight strategy and context of operation, the main challenges and the solutions to address them will be presented, to conclude with the evaluation of some technical evolution developed from these experiments.</p>
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