The Russian MiG-35 Fighter Jet’s Voice Assistant Will Advise Pilots in the Air

The next generation of MiG-35 fighter jets used by the Russian military will use a voice assistant named Rita to help out in complex situations, according to a report from Russian news service Sputnik. The new features will expand Rita’s role to include providing suggestions when matters in the air become fraught, like a more high-stakes version of Alexa or Google Assistant.

Rita’s Advice

“Everything in the new fighter is aimed at helping the pilot. In a critical situation, it can even suggest what should be done,” MiG aircraft corporation test pilot Dmitry Selivanov explained to Sputnik.  “Apart from that, an expert system is being developed, which will direct the pilot in difficult situations.”

The MiG-35 is already an advanced jet. Built by Russia as both an anti-air and ground weapon, the MiG-35 is designed to be both stealthy and deadly. Capable of spotting targets even when the weather is contrary, the jet includes radar invisibility, a fly-by-wire flight control system, and a targeting system built into the helmet. On top of all of that, the MiG-35 comes with its own native Rita voice assistant, a standard on the MiG for some time.

“We call her Rita, the voice communicant. Her voice remains pleasant and calm even if fire hits the engine,” Selivanov said. “She does not talk all the time, she just makes recommendations if the plane approaches some restrictions. Hints are also provided during combat usage.”

Russian Ahead

Russia is not unique in bringing voice and AI technology to bear on military activities. The U.S. is using voice tech in a variety of ways right now. Natural language processing helps soldiers communicate in battle, while AI-powered automatic translation software makes international missions easier for soldiers who aren’t multilingual. Most relevant to Rita and the MiG, the British Royal Navy is working on a plan to install voice assistants and other kinds of tech into future frigates. Much like Rita, the voice assistant will probably be a tool for gathering and assessing information more efficiently than can be done by humans alone.

While the military is, of course, not the same as the civilian sector, Russia’s semi-isolated voice assistant ecosystem includes plenty of notable applications as well. Alice, the voice assistant developed by Russian search engine giant Yandex, for instance, is now a visual artist, able to converse on the subject and paint on command, even of abstract concepts. Meanwhile, the voice assistant recently installed at Moscow’s airport to answer customer queries is booming, with almost a third of all incoming calls to the customer service center handled instead by the AI.


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