When Amazon launched its Prime Air service in 2016 and was about to begin home delivery of packages using drones, many of us believed that the great “drone revolution” was underway. We thought everything – including takeaway – would soon be delivered to your door with the flying wonders. Instead, we ended up with an army of (very much human) delivery people.
But even though drones have taken steps into the consumer market, large-scale commercial use of drones is long overdue. A recently published case from the Washington Post has also shown that drones can also act not just as messengers, but more usefully as rescuers.
What will happen when the drones take over the sky? It will be super noisy! So the key to the future of advanced air mobility (AAM) services is probably – being quiet. The newly established company Whisper Aero wants to solve this issue by reducing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) noise with a new thruster design. Behind the startup are Mark Moore, former NASA engineer and former director of engineering of Uber’s air taxi division Uber Elevate (now owned by Joby Aviation).
The goal of the Whisper Aero is to develop an electronic “thruster”, a propulsion device that is able to blend noise emitted from delivery drones and eVTOLs alike into background levels, making them nearly imperceptible to the human ear.
According to Moore, this will be a formidable challenge since it is not just the volume, but also about other variables, like frequency. Moore cites a helicopter as an example, where the combined sound of the tail rotor and the main rotor creates a much more irritating sound than if it had been a single frequency.
“Harnessing the power of air more cleanly, efficiently, and quietly than ever before”, the idea behind Whisper Aero started with the realization that drone noise will be a crucial obstacle to commercial growth. Other types of aircraft largely escape this problem since they are used so infrequently. A future drone that delivers food to both you and the rest of the neighborhood will for sure need to be much quieter.