June 26, 2024
Aviation Tech

DLR Licenses AI Speech Understanding Tech To EML

For Air Traffic Control Purpose

In a significant development in aviation technology, the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) has licensed its pioneering AI-based speech understanding technology to Heidelberg-based IT company EML.

The innovative technology aims to revolutionise air traffic control (ATC) systems by automating the recognition and understanding of verbal instructions between air traffic controllers and pilots.

DLR has been at the forefront of research in AI-based systems that automatically recognise and comprehend spoken language within the aviation sector, particularly in radio communication’s demanding and safety-critical domain.

EML Speech Technology, known for its expertise in IT products and services, will now take over this cutting-edge technology under a licence from DLR. This marks a significant step forward in digitalising air traffic control processes.

The primary objective of this technology transfer is to boost efficiency and safety in air traffic management.

Significant Benefits

The technology can potentially deliver significant benefits, including substantial fuel savings in the vicinity of airports, by automating tasks and reducing the manual workload of air traffic controllers.

Dirk Kügler, Head of the DLR Institute of Flight Guidance, expressed optimism about the collaboration, stating that the technology is now mature and ready for operational implementation.

The core of this advancement lies in the ability of AI-derived systems to analyse and understand radio communication between air traffic controllers and pilots.

These systems can provide invaluable support to air traffic controllers by accurately interpreting verbal instructions. This enables them to focus more directly on aircraft operations than administrative tasks.

Hartmut Helmke, a leading DLR scientist in the field, highlighted the system’s potential to alleviate the workload of air traffic controllers, particularly in the face of skilled labour shortages and increasing traffic demands.

Extensive trials conducted at the Institute of Flight Guidance have demonstrated the technology’s effectiveness in reducing manual inputs significantly across various operational settings, including en-route flights, approach and departure control, and aircraft taxiing.

Furthermore, simulation studies have shown that this reduction in workload translates into more efficient traffic management, leading to substantial fuel savings of up to 60 litres per approach in airport vicinities.

As the technology continues to evolve, it is expected to pave the way for developing digital assistants with advanced voice understanding capabilities, further enhancing the efficiency and safety of air traffic control operations.

With EML set to harness DLR’s technology for commercial applications, the future of air traffic control looks increasingly promising. It has the potential to usher in a new era of innovation and optimisation in aviation management.

Featured image: AI-based support for communication between ATC tower and aircraft. Credit: DLR

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto is an award-winning journalist with wide-ranging Middle East and Asia experience in the tech, aerospace, defence, luxury watchmaking, business, automotive, and fashion verticals. He is passionate about conserving endangered native wildlife globally. Arnold enjoys 4x4 off-roading, camping and exploring global destinations off the beaten track.
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