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  • Writer's pictureImAFUSA

Drone experiments in Athens!

As part of our May meeting in Athens, Greece, the team of ImAFUSA organised and executed a series of activities on the premises of our partner, the Municipality of Egaleo (EGL) that aimed to detect people’s emotional responses to drone sounds and their views on UAV’s current and future use.

People’s emotional responses to drones’ sounds

More specifically, from 14th-16th May 2024, our partners carried out a series of sound walk experiments at Grove Egaleo Baroutadiko in Athens, Greece. These psychoacoustic experiments were organised and led by the team members of our partners, the Acoustics Research Centre at the University of Salford (USAL), Delft University Faculty of Aerospace Engineering (TUDelft),  Future Needs (FN), and Municipality of Egaleo (EGL). These sound walks, designed by USAL’s Dr. Marc Green as part of a team led by Dr. Antonio Torija Martinez, were designed to assess the perception of the ambient sound scenes in two distinct areas of the park and measure the impact of adding drone noise to these perceptions. In particular, we ask participants to assess their emotional reaction to the sounds present using a series of word-pair scales. In this way, we aim to assess a broad range of emotional responses, rather than sticking to just annoyance and loudness. The Municipality of Egaleo's drone operator also participated in the process.

The USAL team is absolutely blown away by the number of participants who attended these tests. At over 130 people, this represents probably one of the largest sound walks ever conducted, and will form an invaluable source of data for our research project moving forward. The enthusiasm of the various collaborators was palpable and made the whole endeavour an enjoyable and positive experience! We were very impressed with how people from different institutions (Panteion Uni, National Technical University of Athens, and Vocational students from IEK Egaleo) were able to work together smoothly, and with the whole organisational effort made by our partner, Future Needs (FN) and the Municipality of Egaleo (EGL). Namely, the team members of FN welcomed participants, informed them about the experiment, dispersed their badges, and guided the groups through the park. Vasilis Rafail, Project Manager in the Department of Planning, Development & Transparency at EGL adds: “I had the pleasure of supporting the implementation of parts of the sound walks by organising the different groups of participants while translating the whole process in Greek. The pilots were really interesting as we had the pleasure of connecting with local students of various technical principles and sensitising them about the potential noise pollution of the forthcoming drone usage in the city, and co-design measures to tackle them”. 

The research team from TU Delft participated in this psychoacoustic experiment by providing the drone, which simultaneously recorded the air quality data, and performed the measurements of the drone noise, as shown in full in the photograph below. The DJI Mavic 3E drone that was used for this experiment with the Sniffer 4D air quality sensor as a payload had the benefits of measuring the air quality and providing extra weight to create more drone noise for the measurements. The measurements took place over the full minute the participants were listening. Our upcoming blog article will include more details on the technical equipment used and its benefits for measuring human annoyance. 

How society perceives drones – A social experiment in Egaleo Park

After completing the sound walks, the participants were asked to complete a social acceptance survey, organised and led by our project coordinator, Business Research Unit (BRU-Iscte,) and Sophia Kalakou. The participants were asked to provide their views on the use of drones in the present as well as how they consider their use in a more complex future scenario where UAM applications will be part of our everyday lives. Margarida Lopez, Helena Almeida, and Margarida Lopez from Iscte were at the wheel of this survey, assisted by FN and EGL teams at a technical and organisational level. Specifically, ISCTE supervised the distribution of the questionnaires, and their full completion and ensured that all sections were filled in correctly. They also were responsible for clarifying doubts and providing explanations to the participants and assured a valid data collection to proceed with the development of a scale for urban air mobility acceptance.

Special thanks to all the people involved in the organisation and execution of the pilots, it has been a very important milestone for the project and we expect to get our first results out of them! (Sophia Kalakou, Iscte, project coordinator)
An amazing team effort that came together really well and went very smoothly with a minimum of stress despite a lot of moving parts!  (Marc Green, USAL, sound walks leader)

Past test drone flights

Prior to the sound walks and survey in May 2024, ImAFUSA partners from TUDelft and Municipality of Egaleo had tested the drone equipment in February 2024 in the same location and gathered some first views from random visitors in the park and a few employees of the Municipality of Egaleo. You can read all about this technical equipment that recorded sound pressure levels and measured air quality at various elevations and locations in our blog article here. You can also check our thorough blog article here, to learn more about some conclusions we drew from the interviews we conducted in the same period.

You can stay updated by subscribing to our newsletter and checking the news section on the project’s website. Don't forget to engage with the project results on LinkedIn and X.


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