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Speech (voice) Recognition in Training air traffic controllers

ITraining for military (or civilian) air traffic controllers (ATC) represents an excellent application for speech recognition systems. Many ATC training systems currently require a person to act as a "pseudo-pilot", engaging in a voice dialog with the trainee controller, which simulates the dialog which the controller would have to conduct with pilots in a real ATC situation. Speech recognition and synthesis techniques offer the potential to eliminate the need for a person to act as pseudo-pilot, thus reducing training and support personnel. Air controller tasks are also characterized by highly structured speech as the primary output of the controller, hence reducing the difficulty of the speech recognition task.

The U.S. Naval Training Equipment Center has sponsored a number of developments of prototype ATC trainers using speech recognition. Generally, the recognition accuracy falls short of providing graceful interaction between the trainee and the system. However, the prototype training systems have demonstrated a significant potential for voice interaction in these systems, and in other training applications. The U.S. Navy has sponsored a large-scale effort in ATC training systems, where a commercial speech recognition unit was integrated with a complex training system including displays and scenario creation. Although the recognizer was constrained in vocabulary, one of the goals of the training programs was to teach the controllers to speak in a constrained language, using specific vocabulary specifically designed for the ATC task. Research in France has focused on the application of speech recognition in ATC training systems, directed at issues both in speech recognition and in application of task-domain grammar constraints.

The USAF, USMC, US Army, and FAA are currently using ATC simulators with speech recognition from a number of different vendors, including UFA, Inc, and Adacel Systems Inc (ASI). This software uses speech recognition and synthetic speech to enable the trainee to control aircraft and ground vehicles in the simulation without the need for pseudo pilots.

Another approach to ATC simulation with speech recognition has been created by Supremis[1]. The Supremis system is not constrained by rigid grammars imposed by the underlying limitations of other recognition strategies.

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