Big noise for Kiwis' quiet drone

Big noise for Kiwis' quiet drone

Three Kiwi brothers have won a major award at the world's biggest media show in Las Vegas.

They're the brains behind a new kind of quieter drone, which is making big noise in a booming industry.

The sights are spectacular but the sounds aren't as soothing. Unmanned aerial vehicles are called 'drones' for good reason.

A quieter model means new possibilities for film and TV makers, and it could even enable emergency services to listen from the sky on search and rescue missions.

Their start-up is less than a year old; they still operate in a small Auckland workshop, where they 3D-print each new design.

But Dotterel Technologies is fast gaining traction.

They've just won Most Innovative Product at the NAB Show -- the world's biggest showcase of media technology.

"We're still shaking really from winning that prize," says Dotterel's Mat Rowe.

"Over 100,000 people were at that show, over 1800 exhibitors, and we were chosen among a number of incredibly innovative companies."

The design uses shrouds around each propeller to muffle the sound of the spinning blades.

Normally sound travels out in all directions, but the shroud forces noise up and away.

Every decibel makes a discernible difference.

"In practical terms, if we drop 10 decibels it sounds like it's half as loud," Mr Rowe says.

"Once we get down to about 20 decibels, which is what we're aiming for, we're getting about a quarter of the noise."

The din made by drones is about to get softer, but the buzz around Dotterel is getting louder each day.