The first weather research lab will blast drones with wind and rain.

The US Mail should not be stopped by snow, rain, heat, or darkness. Someday, drone deliveries may not be affected by bad weather.

Flight researchers at Mississippi State University will test drones' abilities to endure simulated weather conditions in a new weather laboratory, the university said this month.

Researchers think their study will help autonomous air travel handle weather variations.

"Which will become even more important in the future as we rely on drones for product deliveries and personal air transport," adds MSU Bagley College of Engineering dean Jason Keith.

Researchers can mimic high wind gusts, wind shear, heavy rains, and turbulence at the Raspet Flight Research Laboratory. Fog, dust, and snow testing will follow updates.

"Inclement weather is a major hurdle for commercializing drones, especially for applications like package delivery that require low-altitude flight near the ground where weather effects are strongest," said project principal investigator Shreyas Narsipur, an MSU assistant professor of aerospace engineering. "Data shortages prevent the establishment of performance and safety criteria for drones and other aircraft in bad weather. This lab will alter that."

"No other existing facility provides this level of control over wind conditions and precipitation types," he said. "This lab will enable truly commercializing applications, like drone deliveries, by providing a basis for optimum design methodologies and certification."

Beyond aerospace testing, the team wants to expand the lab's study into sensor development, agricultural spray coverage, and pathogen dissemination.

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