British engineer Richard Jenkins is founder and CEO of Saildrone, a revolutionary unmanned drone capable of capturing key atmospheric and ocean data anywhere on the ocean. The solar-powered and wind-propelled technology offers minute-by-minute, real-time weather forecasts for anywhere on the globe.
His Saildrones have been called upon to assess the impact of the climate crisis on the movement of fish, using acoustic surveys, and have even made a foray into journalism, becoming automatic weather reporters for Yahoo News.
“Because oceans cover more than 70% of our planet, much of the weather we experience on land begins in the ocean: sea surface temperature, wind and water currents, and the rate of evaporation in the ocean combine to determine whether we need a rain jacket or a t-shirt on any given day on land,” says Saildrone.
Although a keen sailor, making his first Atlantic yacht crossing at 16 years old, Jenkins’ original passion was the land. After coming across the wind-powered land speed record while completing a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London in the late 1990’s, he became enthralled by the possibility of beating it.
Jenkins set up Proteus Speeds in 1999 and dedicated the next eight years of his life to trialling different versions of a wind-powered speed vehicle — taking his inventions to salt lakes in Australia and ice sheets in Canada. His ‘Windjet’ project was eventually sponsored by UK wind power producer Ecotricity, and in March 2009 the renamed ‘Ecotricity Greenbird’ model beat the previous record of 116.7 mph with a new speed of 126.2 mph. Central to the success was an innovative wing and tail system, which is now a core component of the Saildrone.
After Proteus Jenkins became President of Photon Composites Inc, which created carbon composites for marine and aerospace application.Tags: drones, ocean
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