Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Acoustics on the project DroneNoise (University of Salford, UK)

Closing Date
7 October 2021

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This is an exciting opportunity for an ambitious researcher to fast-track their career development as a Research Fellow.   The successful candidate will work in a leading research group to develop cutting edge research to address the noise issues related to the design and operation of drones, to aid drone stakeholders to ensure community acceptance, and contribute to the sustainable expansion of the sector.

There is currently a risk that drones are taking to the air without sufficient consideration of their noise impact on public health and wellbeing. Government and industry agree that drone technologies will lead to a significant business opportunity. Drones are expected to support an efficient provision of public services, and therefore deliver substantial societal benefits. But there is a very real barrier to making this a reality – none of this can happen if noise issues are not taken care of at design, operation and policy levels.

The role is for a postdoctoral researcher to carry out acoustic and psychoacoustic research in the framework of the project DroneNoise: Addressing Public Health and Wellbeing Harms for a Sustainable Drone Sector.  This project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is aimed to overcome noise as a barrier for public acceptability of drones, and thereby unlock the substantial economic, environmental and social benefits associated with these technologies.

In this project, you will work under the supervision of Dr Antonio J Torija Martinez (Principal Investigator) to develop methods to put public at the heart of the decision-making around drone noise.  The specific questions you will address in this project are:

(1)          How will communities respond to the unconventional sound signatures of drones?

(2)          What metrics can ensure an accurate prediction of human response to drone noise?

(3)          What are the acceptable noise characteristics of drones, to inform regulation and policy?

(4)          How can psychoacoustic methods inform the design and operation of drones to protect health and quality of life?

Dr Torija Martinez, Lecturer in Acoustic Engineering at the University of Salford, is also a member of the NASA Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Noise Working Group, and an expert contributor to the NASA white paper on UAM noise. The successful candidate will also have the opportunity to work in collaboration with leading institutions such as NASA.

The post will be based at the Acoustics Research Centre of the University of Salford.  The contract is fixed term for 27 months, although possibilities for extending will be explored during the tenure of the role depending on research income.

Salford’s Acoustics Research Centre (ARC) has extensive expertise in how noise is created, measured, modelled and reduced.  ARC is currently leading acoustic task in the project ‘Integrated Flight Control, Energy Storage and Propulsion Technologies for Electric Aircraft (InCEPTion)’, which is supported and co-funded by the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK. InCEPTion project will deliver a highly power-dense, quiet and efficient propulsion module with zero emissions out.

In REF 2014 UoA 16 the panel remarked: “[there was] outstanding impact in acoustics.” Previous work has led to international standards (e.g. ISO 20270:2019) used widely in industry (e.g. Alstom, Boeing, Bentley Motors, QinetiQ and DSTL). ARC has led in developing tools for product design with optimal sound quality, e.g. Innovate UK HVAP project (ref 101887) and EMBED project (EP/P005489/1). Noise perception has been central to many EPSRC projects: e.g. Vivacity 2020 Sustainable Urban Design (GR/S18380/02), The Positive Soundscape Project (EP/E011624/1) and Making Sense of Sounds (EP/N014111/1). Salford has produced guidance used by Defra and local authorities for noise assessment.

In this project, the successful candidate will use Salford’s world class acoustic laboratories, including a full anechoic chamber, ISO standard listening room; and state-of-the-art measurement equipment (multi-channel data acquisition systems, acoustic cameras, etc).

Intelligent automation and robotics is one of the three strategic priorities at Salford. A new £13m Centre of Excellence at the University of Salford, part funded by ERDF, will create specialist research demonstrator space linked to national industrial strategies, e.g. intelligent mobility (smart mobility systems).

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