Drone acoustics at static thrust conditions


C. E. Tinney, Hill, B., Valdez, J., Sirohi, J., and Cameron, C., “Drone acoustics at static thrust conditions,” American Helicopgter Society 73rd Annual Forum. Fort Worth, Texas, USA, 2017.


Multirotor drones are becoming increasingly popular in both the civilian and military sectors of our society. These compact gadgets come in a variety of sizes with the smallest ones measuring less than two inches in diameter, while larger ones can be in excess of five feet. Surprisingly, very little is known about their acoustical footprint, which is becoming a topic of broad importance given that these vehicles most often operate in populated areas. Thus, the objective of this paper is to provide a first principles understanding of the acoustical characteristics of hovering drones. To accomplish this, a new test stand was constructed at the Applied Research Laboratories at The University of Texas at Austin for studying various multirotor drone configurations. The drone test stand is capable of powering up to eight DC electric motors with adjustable arms that allow different rotor diameters to be tested. Rotor diameters ranging from 8 in to 12 in are studied and with configurations comprised of an isolated rotor, a quadcopter configuration and a hexacopter configuration. A six degree-of-freedom load cell is used to assess the aerodynamic performance of each drone configuration. Meanwhile, an azimuthal array of 1/2-inch microphones is placed between 2 and 3 hub-center diameters from the drone center thereby allowing the acoustic near-field to be quantified. The analysis is performed using standard statistical metrics such as Sound Pressure Level and Overall Sound Pressure Level and is presented to demonstrate the relationship between the number of rotors, the drone rotor size and it’s aerodynamic performance (thrust) relative to the far-field noise.