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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are used for almost everything nowadays. These flying machines are used by the business and private sectors, as well as the military, and are involved in a wide variety of missions, from deliveries to helping security services protect citizens. Now UAVs can help protect citizens against more than just bad people.

Raytheon Missile Systems and its new UAV, the Coyote, aims to accurately track and predict hurricanes.

“It’s a sturdy, stout little beast,” said John Hobday of Raytheon Unmanned Air Systems Group.

Dropped straight out of an airplane into the storm, this compact, Coyote UAV is revolutionizing the way NOAA meteorologists follow hurricanes.

“Taking those measurements at the boundary layer to improve your ability to predict the strength of the storm [and] the direction it’s gonna go,” said Hobday.

The Coyote, which is being created in Tucson, can travel and remain in the most dangerous parts of the storm that used to be limited to researchers. Controlled from a laptop computer, Coyote can withstand winds greater than 300 kilometers per hour.

It can also gather more information than ever before.

“With a Coyote, you have this expendable asset that’s unmanned and that can go into those parts of the storm that no one in their right mind would fly an airplane,” said Hobday.

The median cost of damages from an Atlantic hurricane making landfall is $1.8 billion.

More data means better forecasting, and more time to prepare.

“It can improve their understanding of what the storm is doing,” said Hobday. “What kind of dynamic changes are occurring that are in the end going to affect landfall.”

Time will tell what the Coyote can do, but it is already been tested and proven true: The Coyote was dropped into a category 3 hurricane and worked.

NOAA scientists are already trying to figure out how to use Raytheon’s technology with tornadoes.