Thursday, March 16, 2017

2017-03-13: Autonomy Incubator Visits Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Site for Science Mission

Jim examines the control room.

Jim Neilan, Ben Kelley, and intern Nick Woodward accompanied other representatives from the OWLETS project on a trip to the third island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel (CBBT) early this morning. The CBBT connects mainland Virginia with the Delmarva peninsula.


The island is where we'll set up our control station and take-off/land for the mission, because it's perfectly situated for ozone sampling on the land-water transition. Why is that so important? Because this mission will be the first time EVER that someone has sampled ozone directly at the transition. In-situ measurement at the land-water transition is completely unprecedented, and we're going to be the ones to do it.

You can almost see Chic's Beach if you squint.

Escorting the team on this excursion was Chief Edward Spencer, the Chief of Police on the CBBT. The bridge-tunnel is so large that it comprises its own "political subdivision" with a police force and special first responders– how cool is that?

The CBBT is giving us the use of this awesome huge garage.

NASA scientist Guillarme Gronoff and an associate discuss sensor placement
with a CBBT employee.

The Hive vehicles carrying ozone sensors, barometers, and other instruments would take off from here, overlooking the north side of the bridge-tunnel, before autonomously flying over open water to take measurements at the land-water transition. It's set to be the largest outdoor mission we've ever flown, as well as the first flight over water.

Don't worry, we're not visible from the road and won't be distracting
drivers with our UAV antics.
Thanks to the CBBT for welcoming us and our robots! We can't wait to get underway with this daring endeavor and start flying some UAVs.

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