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China Builds the World’s First Autonomous Boat Capable of Carrying Weather Surveillance Rockets

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Before this development, it was an extremely tedious and expensive mission for scientists to study and assess the atmosphere above our planet’s oceans. This was coupled with the possible loss of gathered data in case manual vehicles were annihilated in bad weather. Considering, that these massive water bodies cover 70% of the Earth’s surface, weather forecasting, and environmental knowledge was incomplete.

Thanks to this new development, the research for which was carried out for two years (2017-2018), scientists will now be able to send unmanned satellites to navigate and collate information about the Earth’s atmosphere above oceans. Sounding rockets, as meteorologists like to call them, can now be launched from anywhere in the ocean through a self-navigating, semi-submersible boat. The invention means no part of the ocean will remain inaccessible to humans, anymore.

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The automation invention is not a trivial affair. The robotic vessel was equipped with a plethora of electronic gadgets, which needed remote human-operators for assistance. This breakthrough development paves ways for modernizing several capital-intensive operations such as military, offshore drilling, advanced robotics, etc. along with providing training models for large science teams that won’t need to be on-site for training.

The ship is technically named the unmanned semi-submersible vehicle.

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Initially, these ships are expected to carry out the below functions:

  1. Navigate into deep oceans where it is nearly impossible for human-operated vessels to thrive
  2. Launch and deploy the sounding rocket
  3. Collate data from the rocket about oceans as well as the atmosphere

The sounding rockets launched from this ship can go up to 5 miles, upwards, for brief periods. Traditionally, meteorologists have been using air balloons or buoys that are not as effective as the satellites.

In the pipeline, Chinese authorities are saying, that phase two will have an armada of these to study typhoons and install ocean sensors.

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