The British defense research firm QinetiQ reports it has successfully completed flight trials of a technology designed to allow any pilot to control aircraft systems by voice command.
QinetiQ’s Direct Voice Input system, flown in the recent tests on a U.K. Army Air Corps Eurocopter Gazelle, is intended to facilitate voice control of avionics using standard aircrew helmet microphones and intercoms. The system is set up to be "speaker independent," meaning it does not need to be trained to recognize a specific user. QinetiQ said it gives a pilot the ability to control aircraft systems using voice commands and access information without taking his hands off flight controls or his eyes from the outside world.
QinetiQ developed the system to help alleviate the demands on pilots presented by an increasing amount of technology in modern aircraft cockpits. Much of a pilot’s time can be spent looking inside rather than outside the cockpit during sorties as he deals with multi-function displays with menu structures many tiers deep. A practical voice-control system could be particularly helpful in single pilot operations.