February 29, 2024

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China Utilises Drones to Mitigate Natural Disasters

China’s Wing Loong series of unmanned aircraft have long been known for their strong combat capability, good performance in battles and popularity among foreign buyers. Now, their manufacturer, the State-owned defence conglomerate Aviation Industry Corp of China, said the powerful machines are not only suited for theatre reconnaissance and precision strikes but can also serve a host of civilian purposes.

The most recent example, which involved a Wing Loong 2H that provided communication signals to people besieged by floods in Henan province, has gone viral in Chinese media and social networks, with internet users calling it a magic drone that helps to save lives.

The remotely controlled aircraft used a mini signal transmission device to allow people trapped in flooded areas to connect to the China Mobile network, enabling them to report their situation, call for help or coordinate evacuation work. AVIC Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute had designed and built several civilian models based on the Wing Loong 2 and Wing Loong 10 combat drones.

AVIC has built a weather-modification drone, called Ganlin 1, based on the Wing Loong 2 and conducted its maiden flight test in January in Gansu province. It is the world’s first large drone dedicated to weather control. It has world-class weather modification technology and can remain airborne for up to 14 hours and has a flight capacity of 5,000 kilometres. The China Meteorological Administration is working with Gansu provincial authorities to operate a trial run of deploying the drone to produce artificial precipitation.

In addition to making rain, the aircraft is also capable of long-range meteorological detection and gathering atmospheric data, and can operate in bad weather. Another Wing Loong 2 has been used by forestry fire departments. Carrying cameras and sensors, the drone can enable firefighters to detect and handle forest fires in a rapid, efficient manner.

Currently, fire departments need to send in personnel to detect and monitor forest fires at short range, which usually causes risks for firefighters. Some would use small drones to conduct the task, but small craft are hugely restricted by their short operational time and flight range, therefore large drones like Wing Loong 2 are an ideal option.

Researchers have developed a Wing Loong 10H coastal search-and-rescue drone to find people and ships in distress at sea, provide communication signals and deliver lifebuoys. Moreover, another Wing Loong 10-based model is being used by the China Meteorological Administration in studying typhoons and other marine weather phenomena.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology has played an important role in China’s efforts to build a moderately prosperous society. China has taken a host of practical measures to promote science and technology in socio-economic development, foster innovation, support the transfer and industrialisation of research results, and encourage more investment in scientific and technological infrastructure.

The ministry has also made breakthroughs in its reform of the research system, created a better environment for innovation, improved the resource allocation system and has inspired creativity in science and technology workers.

The ministry has also worked with multiple provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions to encourage institutes in economically thriving areas to cooperate with their counterparts in less-developed western regions, and has also helped technology-intensive east coast enterprises establish presences in the west. The introduction of investment, business and talented people has helped less-developed areas build their own high-tech industries, train local professionals, and create more jobs.

In addition, cutting-edge disciplines like Artificial Intelligence (AI), quantum information, advanced manufacturing, brain sciences and aerospace technology will remain at the top of the ministry’s support list.


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