Noise is something that most drone manufacturers try to minimize. However, a new USPTO patent application from Sony suggests using drones for noise cancellation. Founders Legal has examined the patent, which uses connected drones with audio devices to create quiet spaces.
From the patent:
“In certain situations in open areas (e.g. restaurants, party areas, parks, etc.) it can be difficult to get the soundproof fixed infrastructure immediately in order to initiate verbal communication (e.g. telephone call, conversation with a person in nearby). Furthermore, verbal communication or sound reproduction carried out in the open areas may cause disturbance or nuisance to neighboring people. Therefore, an advanced and intelligent system that can provide a real-time soundproofing solution may be required. “
“The aim of this invention is to create a means for a virtual noise suppression barrier through a networked drone system,” writes John DeStefano, technical advisor to the founders
and Lauren Hawksworth, Marketing Administrator. “The drones are equipped with the necessary audio devices to suppress the surrounding noise and to offer the users a noise-free zone within the virtual barrier.”
A mobile quiet zone could have almost endless uses. In noisy industrial environments such as factories or construction sites, creating a quiet work zone can be incredibly valuable: or just imagine a quiet “phone call zone” set up in busy shopping malls, trade shows, or public events. “The ability to create a virtual noise barrier can be used in many different ways and is sure to be widespread once the technology is sufficiently mature,” the founders’ article said.
The invention, which the Founders said is “very complex,” involves flying a fleet of interconnected drones with a payload of speakers. Part of the invention relates to Sony’s fleet control method. “These interconnected drones know where to go using an image processing algorithm. The algorithm identifies the predefined 3D area using a real-time image data feed and sends corresponding commands to the connected drones in order to position them correctly, ”the article says. “By using the real-time feed, the drone fleet is able to track specific targets to provide a continuous zone of noise cancellation.” It’s a unique use for follow-me functions: as fleet functions evolve across the industry, Sony’s method could prove to be an advancement.
Using the drones for noise cancellation is a new application idea. The drones carry speakers: “Once the drones are properly positioned, they use their audio capture capabilities to process the ambient sound in a particular area. The speakers equipped with the drones can then generate audio signals that cancel out the processed ambient noise, resulting in a virtual noise cancellation limit. “
It’s another use for commercial drones that could add value in a variety of sectors. Could Sony noise-canceling drones follow commercial drones to make sure there is no drone noise in communities?