Starting from the first device (1880) used to detect vessels and avoid ships collisions in fog and for early detection of bombers direction of arrival (WW1 and WW2), acoustic antenna are now returning of big interest for noise source detection and localization. The latest application of such device, based on phased array of microphones and advanced beam-forming algorithm, regards early detection of fire in a forest, airplane localization and identification, surveillance of critical targets, gunshot and explosion detection and location. Within this scenario, the possibility of installing acoustic antenna on aerial platforms (airship or tethered balloon), to provide relevant information for helping in restoring security and safety in crisis contexts (earthquake, flooding, fire,⋯), is investigated in the work at hand. The reference aerial platform is set to the Advanced Hybrid Airship (Bi-Lift) developed at CIRA with the collaboration of University Parthenope. Then, the problem of predicting the array pattern generated by a generic microphone distribution located on airship bottom surface was dealt with; a tailored Matlab tool, able to trace the array pattern and to identify its main figures of merit (e.g. MLA, SLL, ⋯), was implemented and structured as cost function for the next optimisation task. An optimization process was performed to the aim of determining the optimal microphone distribution over the airship surface. Because of the significant amount of CPU time necessary to analyse each different configuration and the large number of design variables, a multi-start particle swarm optimization (PSO) algorithm was employed for its computational effectiveness and for its search-domain exploration capabilities. The size and the shape of the airship under investigation in this paper seems to be suitable to the design and development of an acoustic antenna cooperating to human security in crisis contexts. The cruise speed and operational altitude of the airship, combined with the antenna performance parameters, appear adequate to detect and track some critical noise targets (fire, gunshot, explosion, human moans,⋯), helping the rescue team follow the crisis scenario evolution and giving more information to overcome the risks, thus minimizing damage to people and goods. © European Acoustics Association.
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