Maybe you've heard a drone in flight, maybe you haven't. Either way, the chances are good that you're going to be hearing drones a lot more in the future, as their popularity rockets.
In tests conducted in an acoustic study center in Hampton, Virginia, 38 people were played a collection of different traffic noises – including cars, trucks and drones, without being told the source of the noise. They were then asked to rate each one on a scale of least to most annoying.
Twice as close as a car
The results were stark. The extra irritation experienced by the study volunteers when listening to drone noises was as if they were twice as close as a car. “We didn’t go into this test thinking there would be this significant difference,” study co-author Andrew Christian New Scientist.
One possible reason for this irritation, Christian said, was that drones move more slowly than cars do. A common complaint among the participants was that the drone sounds tended to linger for longer. "That could be a big part of it," he said.
It's hoped that the results of this research could help persuade drone manufacturers to build in countermeasures before complaints start – rather than afterwards. A noise-aware system, for example, could allow drones to understand how loud they are and modify their flight paths dynamically away from populated areas.