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Measured Noise from Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

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Proposed uses of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including home package delivery, have the potential to expose large portions of communities to a new noise source. This paper discusses results of flyover noise measurements of four small UAVs, including one internal combustion-powered model airplane and three battery-powered multicopters. Basic noise characteristics of these vehicles are discussed, including spectral properties and sound level metrics such as sound pressure level, effective perceived noise level, and sound exposure level. The size and aerodynamic characteristics of the multicopters in particular make their flight path susceptible to atmospheric disturbances such as wind gusts. These gusts, coupled with a flight control system that varies rotor rpm to maintain vehicle stability, create an unsteady acoustic signature. The spectral variations resulting from this unsteadiness are explored, in both hover and flyover conditions for the multicopters. The time varying noise, which differs from the relatively steady noise generated by large transport aircraft, may complicate the prediction of human annoyance using conventional sound level metrics.
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Keywords: 13.1; 66.2

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: NASA Langley Research Center

Publication date: June 13, 2016

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