How to regulate drone noise when there is a dearth of data?

Photo credit: Pok Rie from Pexels

by David M. Sykes, Vice Chair, The Quiet Coalition

“Drone delivery” is here and coming to your yard soon—and the revolution will not be quiet. These excellent and sobering notes by Eddie Duncan about the  International Institute of Noise Control Engineering’s European Quiet Drones e-symposium held October 2020 will provide sobering insights. Note that a second meeting was held in December in the U.S. under the auspices of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

I-INCE is “neutral,” i.e., their organizational interest is not whether you’re bothered by noise, and the e-synmposium was not a public meeting. I-INCE is tightly focused on engineers’ interests, not consumers. In fact, “the Symposium provided a venue for researchers on drone noise to meet with manufacturers, users and those engaged in designing innovative applications for this new technology.”

Duncan’s comments about the October 2020 meeting–the first one of its kind–noted that current aircraft noise certification methods shouldn’t apply to drones because they have “unique acoustical characteristics and lower-elevation flight paths.” As such, current metrics used “in aircraft noise certification used for small planes, helicopters, and jets may not be appropriate for drones.”

But a bigger issue is the lack of data, Duncan adds, stating that “general agreement at the e-symposium was that quality sound emission data from drones remains sparse.” He opined that the lack of information “may be due, in part, to drone operators viewing the data as proprietary.”


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