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Speech (voice) Recognition in Helicopters

IThe problems of achieving high recognition accuracy under stress and noise pertain strongly to the helicopter environment as well as to the fighter environment. The acoustic noise problem is actually more severe in the helicopter environment, not only because of the high noise levels but also because the helicopter pilot generally does not wear a facemask, which would reduce acoustic noise in the microphone. Substantial test and evaluation programs have been carried out in the past decade in speech recognition systems applications in helicopters, notably by the U.S. Army Avionics Research and Development Activity (AVRADA) and by the Royal Aerospace Establishment (RAE) in the UK. Work in France has included speech recognition in the Puma helicopter. There has also been much useful work in Canada. Results have been encouraging, and voice applications have included: control of communication radios; setting of navigation systems; and control of an automated target handover system.

As in fighter applications, the overriding issue for voice in helicopters is the impact on pilot effectiveness. Encouraging results are reported for the AVRADA tests, although these represent only a feasibility demonstration in a test environment. Much remains to be done both in speech recognition and in overall speech recognition technology, in order to consistently achieve performance improvements in operational settings.

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