Lockheed Martin Picks Readspeaker’s Synthetic Voice Tech to Train F-35 Pilots
Pilots training to fly the F-35 Lightning II will be guided by a synthetically generated voice built by digital voice interface creator ReadSpeaker. Lockheed Martin chose ReadSpeaker and its text-to-speech (TTS) tech to produce the virtual teacher for would-be pilots when they are in the jet training module ahead of their certification for the aircraft.
Lockheed Martin wants a guide that pilots can listen to while they are training that can read out a script, so the pilot doesn’t have to refer to any written manual in the cockpit. ReadSpeaker’s global presence and previous work with companies like Lockheed that require government clearance gave the tech company a leg up in getting the gig. The level of customization for the artificial voice and how the tech is licensed sealed the deal, according to ReadSpeaker. ReadSpeaker’s synthetic speech generation has been on the rise as the technology becomes popular and widespread. For instance, ReadSpeaker signed a major agreement late last year to augment SoundHound’s Houndify voice AI platform to sound more lifelike. And the growing demand has funneled huge funding rounds and contracts to AI voice startups like Wellsaid, Supertone, Resemble AI, and Veritone, among others.
“As a longstanding provider of educational text-to-speech technology, moving beyond the traditional classroom and into military classrooms was a natural progression for us,” ReadSpeaker president for North America Matt Muldoon said in a statement. “Our combination of security and flexibility enabled us to meet the very specific needs of this partnership. We are honored to have been selected to work with Lockheed Martin.”
Lockheed Martin and the F-35 are also far from unique in seeing military value in voice AI too. The U.S. Air Force has been testing a voice-commanded uncrewed jet. The Army is working on the Joint Understanding and Dialogue Interface, JUDI, that will relay voice commands from soldiers to robotic vehicles, and the Navy has begun soliciting ideas for a virtual assistant for sonar operators. The U.s. is not the only country with a military interest in this tech either. The Russian military is testing a voice assistant for Marker combat drones. And the Russian Air Force is reportedly making a voice assistant part of the next version of the MiG-35 fighter jet, not just for training, but in the form of a voice assistant named Rita to help pilots make quick decisions in complicated situations.