Cockpit voice recognition system could improve inflight safety

Advanced voice recognition software for use inside aircraft cockpits is being trialled at Honeywell Aerospace, as part of research into the use of avionics technology to decrease pilot workload and improve inflight safety.

The Honeywell Innovative Prototyping Environment, or HIPE, lets pilots operate a traditional multipurpose control display unit from a tablet that receives voice commands.

“Ten years ago if you told me that I would soon see pilots using their voice to plan flights, I would not have believed you,” said Andy Drexler, marketing director for the Future Flight Deck strategy at Honeywell.

“As consumers are becoming accustomed to voice applications, from using Siri to make phone calls to telling thermostats to change temperatures, it only makes sense that we need to bring this capability into the cockpit.”

The prototype software, which was put into action for press to witness first hand at the Honeywell Deer Valley site in Arizona earlier this month, is impressively accurate, and able to recognise and convert words precisely and quickly.  

The engineering and technology team have trialled the software on an Embraer ERJ170 aircraft, and are currently working with pilots and customers to assess the usability, safety and efficiency of voice recognition in real airborne scenarios.

Introducing voice recognition into the cockpit has the potential to eliminate some of the manual steps required to execute commands, thereby decreasing workload and allowing the pilot to focus on flying safely and efficiently.

Honeywell is still working on perfecting the technology to improve overall accuracy and ensure that the software is able to recognise commands in various noise levels, accents and languages.

The HIPE voice recognition software is just one of the technologies currently being developed by Honeywell Aerospace to improve inflight safety. Inside the other labs neurotechnology, synthetic vision systems and touchscreens are also being trialled for use inside the cockpit.

The Honeywell Synthetic Vision Systems and Combined Vision System technologies, which are being developed for use in helicopters, provide pilots with a 3D perspective view of the surrounding terrain, obstacles and runways overlaid with advanced symbology, allowing for enhanced spatial awareness even in times of decreased visibility.

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