Mark Williamson, Smith & Williamson, LLC

Drone Meets Balloon: The technology and applications of advanced free-drifting unmanned aerial systems

This presentation will review the rationale and development of Smith & Williamson’s Boomerang Balloon Flight Control System, a remotely operated, altitude-controllable small balloon vehicle. The unique flight qualities and capabilities of Boomerang will be compared to conventional fixed-wing aircraft, rotorcraft, and balloons. Scientific research and technology development applications best suited for free-drifting balloon platforms will be reviewed. Recent research campaigns using Boomerang will be presented, including low-altitude flights inside of thunderstorms and aerosol pollution sampling flights in India. Potential future directions of this technology will also be discussed.