Voice-recognition software allows an air battle manager to control his or her radar screen by speaking to it, instead of using a traditional trackball or mouse, keyboard and function keys.
We estimate that, by adding a robust speech-recognition capability to the E-3 weapon system, the operator is able to reduce his or her workload by up to 40 percent, improve accuracy and increase overall situational awareness, said 1st Lt. Jeff LaFleur, AWACS advanced technology program manager.
If further development and testing are successful, a technology-insertion program could be integrated into AWACS Block 40/45 major-system upgrades after 2010.
Air Force Research Laboratorys human effectiveness directorate officials began performing simulation testing during the last year to determine the use of voice-recognition technology for the AWACS mission crew.
The initial testing produced very positive results, Lieutenant LaFleur said. While the program is just getting started, the outstanding potential to provide increased situational awareness for air battle managers has generated strong interest from the AWACS community and could pave the way for other platforms to be voice-enabled in the future, said Col. Brian Waechter, AWACS Materiel Wing director.
In late 2003, Sytronics received funding through the Office of the Secretary of Defenses Defense Acquisition Challenge Program. Besides DACP funding, the Small Business Innovative Research program also contributed matching dollars to support this technological maturity push. This dual funding has allowed the AWACS Program Office to initiate a 14-month program to develop and test voice recognition software for U.S. AWACS aircraft.
“While the program is just getting started, the outstanding potential to provide increased situational awareness for air battle managers has generated strong interest from the AWACS community and could pave the way for international AWACS, Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft and other platforms to be voice-enabled in the future,” said Col. Brian Waechter, AWACS Materiel Wing director.
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