Scientists in Oklahoma are designing drones that could be used to predict tornadoes. Loaded with high-tech gear, these drones could potentially save lives by improving warning times.

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Fox News’ Casey Stegall reported Oklahoma State University where the research is being conducted. He said scientists are calling these drones the “future of forecasting.”

The drones are outfitted with equipment to gather information such as air pressure, wind speed and dew points.

OSU student Fred Keating said in the next year and a half, the idea is to have drones in the sky collecting data in Oklahoma that can be sent to meteorologists.

Unmanned aerial vehicles are designed to get very close to supercell thunderstorms, which are too dangerous for storm chasers and their equipment. The biggest challenge so far has been building a UAV that’s durable enough to withstand severe weather conditions.

OSU Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering professor, Jamey Jacob, explained, “We have this region below from the ground up to the cloud where […] we’d like to get a lot of the data from, but we have this energy that’s being fed into the storm. And so that’s beneficial from an unmanned aircraft perspective because it’s already relatively low altitude.”

Stegall reported that in addition to forecasting, researchers at OSU are also working on designing search and rescue drones that can be used to assist first responders after a disaster. 

Watch the report above for more details.

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