Experimental investigation on acoustics and efficiency of rotor configurations for electric aerial vehicles



Aerial vehicles based on distributed electric propulsion systems have gained great interest. Their rotors however create loud and annoying sound, what obstructs market success. Variations in rotor configuration can be observed on emerging concepts, whereby the main varied parameters are blade radius, number of blades and blade distribution.

The focus of this paper is to identify how these parameters can be chosen to optimize efficiency and acoustics, including psychoacoustic metrics and sound quality of single rotors while hovering. Results from experimental investigations done in a hover-test-bench are presented. Rectangular, symmetric blades are used. Experiments are done varying blade radius (61mm to 126 mm), number of blades (2 to 8) and blade distribution (equal and unequal angles). Acoustic measurements are analyzed regarding microphone position, sound pressure level, spectral characteristics, psychoacoustic metrics and selected sound quality models.

Results show, that variations in blade radius, number of blades and blade distribution can improve efficiency and acoustics. Influence of these parameters on the acoustic signature at constant rotational speed and at constant thrust is discussed. Conclusions for optimized rotor design at aerial vehicles are derived and supplemented by resulting boundary conditions like building space and weight.