[Image: Photo courtesy Mountain Drones].
A Colorado-based company called Mountain Drones is developing a line of octocopters armed with small explosive charges as a possible tool for setting off artificial avalanches. It’s landscape design by drone.
“Here’s how it would work,” Outside explains:
Instead of spending hours bootpacking to a ridgeline to drop a hand charge, ski patrollers would select a preprogrammed route for the drone to fly and manually drop the charges to clear the slope from a safe distance. Onboard sensors will calculate the snow-water equivalent—a measure of the snowpack’s water content—and depth, allowing patrollers to identify persistent weak layers and breaking points and helping them determine where to make drops.
For now, of course, this is all still stuck at the proposal stage, although the company estimates—somewhat over-optimistically, it seems—that it will be “at least one or two years” before the proper regulations are passed.
Until then, the drones will instead be flying test routes with mock explosives, running various patterns across the mountains in anticipation of the future landscape events they will trigger.