The Weather Company now provides forecasts for drone operators

The Weather Company now provides forecasts for drone operators

The Weather Company is the latest organization to take to the skies, but instead of using drones to help provide weather reports, its idea is to provide drone operators with up to the minute forecasts, in line with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s new guidelines.

Last week, the Weather Company, which was acquired by IBM last October, said it was working with AirMap, an “airspace management service provider” to provide real-time weather data for drone operators. This data will be made accessible via AirMap’s APIs and mobile apps, the company said.

The Weather Company said its announcement coincides with the FAA’s recently published guidelines, which state that drone operators must check the latest available weather information prior to take off.

Accessing real-time weather data is important, as it “will help today’s drone pilots avoid hazardous and severe weather, and will be absolutely critical for safe, efficient flight planning and operations of more autonomous, beyond visual-line-of-sight drones,” said AirMap CEO Ben Marcus in a statement.

AirMap plans to update its weather forecasts for more than two billion locations around the world every 15 minutes. The company uses data from the Weather Company’s forecasting platform to generate its hyper-local weather reports, which include both current conditions and forecasts, barometric pressure, cloud cover, precipitation, temperature and other data.

According to the Weather Company, the partnership with AirMap is “a natural extension of the value we already provide every day to major airlines and aviation business worldwide.” The partners said that having access to real-time weather data would be a big boon to the safety of drone operations, and a key step towards eventual “beyond visual line-of-sight” flights becoming commonplace. If true, that will be welcome news to companies like Amazon Web Services, which was one of the first proponents of using drones to deliver products, but has become so frustrated with the FAA’s patient approach that it recently decided to shift its drone-testing operations to the U.K.

The deal is also a big boost for IBM, which has largely kept quiet about its plans for the Weather Company since acquiring it last year. At the time of the deal, IBM said it would integrate its weather data with its Watson cognitive and analytics platform to create new intelligence tools and products, and this latest deal suggests it’s done so successfully.