AUSPICE: ATC & UAV SPeech Interface Control Environment

Period of Performance: 04/06/2006 - 11/06/2006


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Sytronics, Inc.
4433 Dayton-Xenia Road, Building 1
Dayton, OH 45432
Principal Investigator


ATC & UAV Speech Interface Control Environment (AUSPICE) applies our experience and familiarity with Warfighter's needs in utilizing speech recognition technology for command and control activities to provide a seamless voice-to-data conversion system for the FATC concept. It is composed of three parts: a noise reduction filter, a speech recognizer, and a data link interface. The noise reduction filter processes the audio signal from the ATC controller, reduces background noise, and enhances the speech clarity. This clean audio is fed into a speech recognizer system that parses the spoken phrase into its component parts and determines if the utterance is a valid command phrase. This will be accomplished using an adapted commercial HMM-based speech recognition engine, a custom ATC grammar, and context-based information from the current situation. Appropriate safeguards will ensure the command is valid and appropriate before the data link interface will be engaged to create and send the appropriate data link message. Cues and feedback will be given to the controller to show proper operation of the speech recognition system and to relay designated data link messages received from aircraft. AUSPICE crosses disciplines to provide a seamless and effective voice-to-data conversion system for air traffic control. BENEFITS: The primary means for ATC controllers to communicate with aircraft is by verbal radio transmissions. However, the current evolution of technology is bringing about more and more aircraft communication by data link messages. While this is true for both manned and unmanned aircraft, the dichotomy between verbal and data link commands becomes especially acute for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). As UAVs become increasingly autonomous, they will no longer require the constant control of a dedicated pilot/operator. Without such a pilot/operator to hear and respond to verbal ATC commands, the UAV will need some other means to communicate with ATC. This is where the importance of an ATC voice-to-data link conversion system becomes apparent. Such a system would allow the seamless integration of advanced data link messaging systems into the current voice-based ATC system. To the ATC controller, it may even become transparent whether the aircraft under control is manned or unmanned--they will both respond to verbal commands, even if the UAV is actually receiving a data link message instead of the verbal command. Enabling the seamless integration of voice and data link messages will foster the development of more advanced data link communications and expand the viability of UAVs for a wide range of applications.