Highest wind speed recorded by an Uncrewed Surface Vehicle

Highest wind speed recorded by an Uncrewed Surface Vehicle
Who
Saildrone , Saildrone Explorer SD 1045, NOAA
What
203.4 kilometre(s) per hour
Where
United States
When
30 September 2021

The highest wind speed recorded by an uncrewed surface vehicle (USV) is 109.83 knots (203.4 km/h; 126.4 mph), measured by Saildrone Explorer SD 1045 as it passed through the eyewall of the Category 4 Hurricane Sam on 30 September 2021. This USV was designed by Saildrone (USA) in partnership with the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Saildrone Explorer is a model of 23-foot (7-m) autonomous vehicle, designed for long-endurance (up to one year) environmental monitoring missions. Each is propelled by a 15 ft (5 m) rigid sail (or "wing") and has solar panels to provide power for on-board instruments and transmitters.

SD 1045 is a custom "hurricane" variant of the standard Saildrone Explorer. It has a cropped wing and various other modifications to improve its stability in extreme conditions. NOAA operated seven of these vehicles in 2022, deploying them during hurricane season to each cover a sector of the North Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico that is typically traversed by storms.

When a significant storm enters a Saildrone's sector, controllers instruct it to navigate into its path, although the specific route taken is chosen by the autonomous drone itself.