POTSDAM -- An unmanned aerial device being developed at Clarkson University may help determine the best locations to site wind turbine farms.
A team of Clarkson faculty, staff, and students traveled to Sandusky, Ohio, this summer to fly the “Golden Eagle,” a nearly 40-pound UAV carrying a sonic anemometer that records wind directions and speeds.
The team managed a number of successful 30-minute data acquisition flights at a model aircraft field located in Burton, Ohio and two at the Griffing Sandusky General Aviation Airport.
The project is part of a greater effort to collect weather condition and air quality data, a preliminary step toward researching proposed offshore wind turbine farms on and around Lake Erie.
Several academic institutions and industries partnered in the research, including Clarkson, Indiana University, Case Western Reserve University, Arizona State University, EDP Renewables, and SgurrEnergy.
The trip to Ohio builds on similar research conducted by Clarkson last year in Indiana.
“The Golden Eagle is a highly adaptable and capable platform with remarkable performance,” said Pier Marzocca, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering and the UAV mission commander. “We can use it to acquire significant amounts of scientific data, at altitudes that cannot be covered by other aircrafts or means, to go well beyond what point measurement instruments are currently capable of.”
In addition, the Golden Eagle collected ground information at the Port of Cleveland, but was not flown due to safety concerns and air space restrictions.
The team is currently working on the next prototype of the Golden Eagle. The Clarkson UAV could also be repurposed for other uses, according to Daniel Valyou, a senior specialist and UAV chief engineer.
The UAV could house other technology besides wind-measuring devices, Valyou said. In the future, a UAV could help search and rescue teams find a missing child or fight forest fires.
“The UAV’s primary function is not to be researched. It’s to generate research,” Valyou said. “This UAV presents a wide range of opportunities. It has a lot of potential to expand down the road.”