NASA’s Noise-Testing Tool Finds Applications Beyond Aircrafts (Tech Briefs)

NASA’s Noise-Testing Tool Finds Applications Beyond Aircrafts

A wireless microphone array quickly, cheaply, accurately maps noise from aircraft and much more.

Airplane manufacturers running noise tests on new aircraft now have a much cheaper option than traditional wired microphone arrays. And it’s sensitive enough to help farmers with pest problems. The wireless microphone array that one company recently created with help from NASA can locate crop-threatening insects by listening for sounds they make in fields. And now, it’s making fast, affordable testing possible almost anywhere.

Since releasing its first commercial product in 2017, a sensor for wind tunnel testing developed with extensive help from NASA, UF startup Interdisciplinary Consulting Corporation (IC2) has doubled its staff size and moved to larger lab and office space to produce its new WirelessArray product. The Gainesville company started in 2014 licensing technology developed by Dr. Mark Sheplak from UF’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Interested in making its own flight tests more affordable, NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, supported IC2’s new project as well, with multiple Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts and expert consulting.

The result is a series of small, saucer-shaped bases equipped with multiple sensors that measure the air pressure changes created by overhead sounds. Airplanes go through noise testing and require certification, so they don’t exceed the FAA noise level set for the body type. When an airplane flies directly overhead, the array collects noise data to build a two-dimensional map of the sound pressure and its source. A custom software package translates that information for the end user.

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