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University Of Salford

The University of Salford (USAL) has over 19,000 students from more than 100 countries around the world. Its researchers thrive on encouraging innovation, embedding entrepreneurship into the whole curriculum and delivering true knowledge exchange by close collaboration with external stakeholders. USAL is home to a number of elite research groups including the Acoustics Research Centre (ARC). The ARC is one of the longest established specialist acoustics research centres in the world, having been established in the early 1960s. It is funded by research councils, national and international government bodies, and industry. Our research has fed into products that companies make and sell worldwide, as well as regulations and standards used in the UK, Europe and internationally. The UK Research Excellence Framework has highlighted research at ARC as having ‘particular strengths in acoustics’ and delivering ‘outstanding impact in acoustics for the built environment.’ We have world-class acoustics laboratories: listening rooms, reverberation rooms, anechoic chambers, an accredited calibration laboratory and state of the art equipment and instrumentation. Through the laboratories we are able to bring much of our fundamental research into real life applications. The Acoustics Research Centre is the primary partner for Acoustics research in the BBC Audio Research Partnership.

Role in the project

USAL’s ARC will address noise issues of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to unlock the substantial financial, environmental and societal benefits of these novel vehicles. We will quantify the noise produced by UAS, and will also investigate the noise impact on human health and well-being as well as wildlife. Noise targets will be derived for the trajectory optimisation of these vehicles, so their impact on humans and wildlife is minimised.

USAL’s ARC will progress beyond the state-of-the-art by:

  • Carrying out comprehensive psychoacoustic testing for a complete understanding of drone noise in acoustic and non-acoustic context. The focus will be on investigating the interdependencies between drone noise noticeability and annoyance for a number of different drone types, operating conditions and ambient background noise levels. Moreover, building upon a method developed by Torija et al. 2020, Virtual Reality and spatial audio techniques will be implemented to simulate highly immersive scenarios of drone operations in urban environments. This will be used to unravel the complex audio-visual interactions in drone noise perception. The focus will be to define targets for public acceptance of drone noise.

  • Developing a drone noise impact assessment approach for wildlife. Through co-creation with end-users (facilitated by DronePrep), a noise impact assessment framework for wildlife will be developed. The drone noise models developed by USAL and TUD will enable prediction of the noise exposure of wildlife. A systematic review of noise effects on wildlife, coupled with targeted field experiments on responses to drone noise, will enable exposure assessment to be translated into impact assessment. The initial focus will be on birds (for this proof of concept), but the framework developed is expandable to other wildlife groups.

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