Siri-like functions in the cockpit, coming to aircraft sooner than you think

February 2, 2015 | Author: Andy Drexler

As an aerospace industry insider, I have seen many cool new technologies aboard an aircraft. Most recently we saw our advanced touchscreen controls earn their way onto the Gulfstream®G500 and G600 aircraft and it is no surprise now that voice recognitionis becoming a reality.

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

Initially some pilots were skeptical of the concept but it is very interesting to see them become believers after they realize how much it could ease pilot workload – such as calling up commands without layers of menus or reading back taxi clearances to see the taxi path.   Many of them even started giving us their own thoughts about what could be voice enabled.

Honeywell is currently flight testing voice recognition on an Embraer ERJ170 aircraft, and is working with pilots, customers, and regulators to assess its usability, safety and efficiency in real airborne scenarios. Our Engineering and Technology team developed the Honeywell Innovative Prototyping Environment which lets pilots replace a traditional multipurpose control display unit with a tablet. This was a critical breakthrough in the engineering phase as it made it easier to take emerging technologies (voice recognition, touchscreen, gesture control, etc.) directly into the field sooner and rapidly develop the cockpit of the future. 

Voice recognition is a now reality in a test environment. Honeywell is still working on perfecting the technology to ensure it works in various noise levels, accents and languages and overall accuracy to ensure we deliver a product that is intuitive, safe and efficient.

For example, at one point the engineers thought they had a solid application for most English speakers that was testing very well, until a Swiss pilot who also grew up in Kentucky tested the technology. The distinctive southern-American and Swiss-German accent sent the team straight back to the lab to work on more models. The extensive and stringent testing that our team is conducting with pilots and customers will allow us to create the most natural and effective solution. 

We are just at the tip of introducing voice recognition onto the aircraft. Ultimately it will be a great tool for either inexperienced pilots or non-native English speakers to quickly find desired functions in stressful situations and simply just make flying more intuitive and efficient.  It builds on Honeywell’s 100 year legacy of making aviation safer.

Check out Honeywell's News Release about this exciting project.

Andy Drexler

Andy Drexler

Andy Drexler works in the Cockpit Systems Marketing and Product Management organization where he is a Marketing Director responsible for the Future Flight Deck strategy. Andy has been with Honeywell for 26 years, working for both the Aerospace and Automated Control Systems business and has worked on numerous emerging advanced technology products across multiple functions. He received his MBA from the College of Santa Fe and his undergraduate degree from New Mexico State University.

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