In our latest publication, we are introducing a novel method to measure wind with small quadcopters. The method works for drones type DJI Phantom and Mavic. The method post-processes the internal flight data (attitude data) from the drone to estimate wind speed and wind direction. In essence, our method transforms these off-the-shelf commercials drones into highly versatile wind measurement equipment. The accuracy of the system depends on the winds speeds and in general, is around 1m/s for wind speed and 30° for wind direction.

There is a wide range of potential applications for measuring wind with drones. For example, it can be used to take lower boundary-layer profile measurements. Such drones can typically fly up to 500m and can also replace weather balloons. Combining multiple drones also allows measuring wind profiles and aerodynamic surface roughness. The ease of operation makes such drones also suitable for including in teaching and fieldwork.

The main advantage of our method is that it uses off-the-shelf commercial drones. This makes the method easily implementable at a very reasonable cost. This is in contrast to existing methods that rely on highly customized drone setups. Essentially our method can fly “out of the box”. This comes however the cost that the wind measurements are not available online – data needs to be downloaded and post-processed.

Link: Meier, K., Hann, R., Skaloud, J., Garreau, A. (2022). Wind Estimation with Multirotor UAVsAtmosphere, 13, 551. DOI:  10.3390/atmos13040551

Calibration flights with a DJI Phantom 4 Pro in Adventdalen, Svalbard.