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A Drone with Ears

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The array currently features 48 microphones, but this will increase to 256 in the future.

The MEMS microphones are attached in a special geometric configuration in the array and can perceive sound from all directions.

Credit: Fraunhofer FKIE

Researchers at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing, and Ergonomics (FKIE) developed a microphone array that can be added to drones, along with cameras, to help locate disaster victims.

The array of MEMS microphones, called LUCY (Listening system Using a Crow's nest arraY), uses acoustic sensors to detect cries for help and other noises that can identify survivors and help determine their precise locations.

LUCY currently is equipped with 48 microphones, can detect frequencies that cannot be heard by the human ear, and uses artificial intelligence (AI) to filter out noise from rescue equipment, wind, birds, and the drone's rotors.

The AI, combined with signal processing techniques, enables the system to detect and classify sounds and calculate their angle of incidence with precision.

The signals are processed quickly thanks to a compact processing unit, and the location data is transmitted to rescue teams.

From Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (Germany)
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