We have a lot of ideas for this project, you can get really creative with a cheap “fire and forget” system.
Short term wise, there’s always the option to turn this into a kit for consumers as a product. There’s a lot of flexibility with a flight controller that focuses on gliders first. For example, photographers can use this to slingshot smaller gliders into the air and have the glider circle around, and take pictures and videos on the way down. The glider would be small enough to fit inside a backpack, easier to use than an off the shelf drone at the Kohls clearance rack (shoutout), and priced competitively, or cheaper than one because of the lack of motors.
This is of course to fund the project for its long term commercial goal, which is to hopefully aid meteorologists in retrieving their equipment from high altitude weather balloons autonomously to home base. Since meteorologists usually send two weather balloons up a day, one at 8am and one at 8pm, we’re hoping that this can be a very consistent, robust, and convenient tool to save them time since driving out and finding the parachute takes an hour or so, money since parachutes are at the mercy of the wind and can land on water, manpower, etc etc.
The “Disney” ending to this project is that it’s a tool, and all meteorologists do is just plug in the battery to the system and send the balloon free. From there on out its 100% autonomy, with the flight controller saving the first gps coordinates received as home base, to releasing itself at a predetermined altitude, to bringing itself back to where it was launched from.