Talk Devices Train Air-Traffic Controllers

COMPUTERIZED aircraft simulators have saved dollars and lives by training pilots in a wide range of flight situations. But air-traffic controllers have not had similar success with computer-based training because of their profession's reliance on oral communication. Although computers are used in air-traffic control training today, the systems require an operator called a pseudo-pilot to listen to the trainee's commands and tell the computer how to update the heading of each aircraft.

``That's manpower intensive,'' says Robert Wesson, a researcher who studies the application of artificial intelligence to air-traffic control. ``You have to take a trained controller off the line and put him in the back room [to run the trainer]. They're already dramatically understaffed. That translates directly into time, dollars, and safety.''

Because of developments in computerized speech processing, the operator can now be replaced with a voice-recognition system. ``What you want is a stand-alone training device, where a controller can turn on the machine, strap on a headset, and go,'' says Dr. Wesson.

In 1988, Wesson was selling a $49.95 computer game that let a person step into the shoes of an air-traffic controller, route flights around the country, and deal with pilots.

``The controllers discovered it and commented, `if you put voice recognition on the thing ... it could be used as a professional-level training device,''' says Wesson. With a little work, he got a Dragon Systems speech recognizer to operate with his game.

Then Wesson International, Wesson's software development firm in Austin, Texas, was given a US Air Force Small Business Innovative Research Contract to develop the professional simulator. Ten systems have already been sold for research and evaluation.

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK