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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 23 Jan 2020

Submitted as: research article | 23 Jan 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

The CopterSonde: An Insight into the Development of a Smart UAS for Atmospheric Boundary Layer Research

Antonio R. Segales1,2,3, Brian R. Greene2,3,4, Tyler M. Bell3,4, William Doyle3, Joshua J. Martin3, Elizabeth A. Pillar-Little3, and Phillip B. Chilson2,3,4 Antonio R. Segales et al.
  • 1University of Oklahoma School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Norman, Oklahoma
  • 2Advanced Radar Research Center, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • 3Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • 4University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology, Norman, Oklahoma

Abstract. The CopterSonde is an uncrewed aircraft system developed in-house by a team of engineers and meteorologists at the University of Oklahoma. The CopterSonde is an ambitious attempt by the Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling to address the challenge of filling the observational gap present in the lower atmosphere among the currently used meteorological instruments such as towers and radiosondes. The CopterSonde is a unique and highly flexible platform for in situ atmospheric boundary layer measurements with high spatial and temporal resolution, suitable for meteorological applications and research. Custom autopilot algorithms and hardware features were developed as solutions to problems identified throughout several field experiments carried out since 2017. In these field experiments, the CopterSonde has been proved capable of safely operating at wind speeds up to 22 m s-1, flying at 3050 m above mean sea level, and operating in extreme temperatures: nearly −20 °C in Finland and 40 °C in Oklahoma, United States. Leveraging the open-source ArduPilot autopilot code has allowed for seamless integration of custom functions and protocols for the acquisition, storage, and distribution of atmospheric data along with the flight control data. This led to the creation of features such as the "wind vane mode" algorithm which commands the CopterSonde to always face into the wind. It also allowed for the design of an asymmetric airframe for the CopterSonde, which is shown to have more convenient locations for weather sensor placement, in addition to allowing for improvements in the overall aerodynamic characteristics of the CopterSonde. Moreover, it has also allowed the team to design and create a modular shell where the sensor package is attached and which can run independently of the CopterSonde's main body. The CopterSonde is on the trend towards a smart UAS tool with a wide possibility of creating new adaptive and optimized atmospheric sampling strategies.

Antonio R. Segales et al.

Interactive discussion

Status: open (until 19 Mar 2020)
Status: open (until 19 Mar 2020)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Antonio R. Segales et al.

Model code and software

oucass/CASS-ardupilot: CASSv1.5.1-Copter-3.6.11 Antonio R. Segales ; Andrew Tridgell; Randy Mackay; Peter Barker; Lucas De Marchi; WickedShell; Paul Riseborough; Tom Pittenger; jason4short; Pierre Kancir; jschall; Gustavo José de Sousa; Leonard Hall; Michael Oborne; Jacob Walser; Pat Hickey; Amilcar Lucas; Robert Lefebvre; Siddharth Bharat Purohit; Francisco Ferreira; murata,katsutoshi; Caio Marcelo de Oliveira Filho; Georgii Staroselskii; Grant Morphett; Mirko Denecke; Eugene Shamaev; Julien BERAUD; Rustom Jehangir; Peter Hall; James Goppert; Víctor Mayoral Vilches

Antonio R. Segales et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The CopterSonde is an uncrewed aircraft system designed with the purpose of sampling thermodynamic and kinematic parameters of the lower Earth's atmosphere, with focus on vertical profiles in the planetary boundary layer. By incorporating adaptive sampling techniques and optimizing the sensor placement, our study shows that CopterSonde can provide similar information as a radiosonde, but with more control of its sampling location at much higher temporal and spatial resolution.
The CopterSonde is an uncrewed aircraft system designed with the purpose of sampling...