Thoughts on HATS

03/18/2016: Today’s accelerating technological landscape provides huge opportunities in human automation teaming R&D. In particular, there are significant research efforts within the Department of Defense (an annual $150 M effort!), NASA, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), all of which are grappling with how to team humans with increasingly autonomous systems such as robots, vehicles, and intelligent agents/systems of an ever widening variety.

The experience of our team in this environment is deep and long, representing many decades of research and development in academia, government, and business. HATS is busy now applying technologies, such as automated voice input and output, operator state sensing, machine learning, and dynamic human-automation functional allocation schemes, to the challenge of teaming with these increasingly autonomous systems.

In addition to governmental research, private commercial enterprises are also moving aggressively to implement greater degrees of autonomy within their businesses. For example, Google, Amazon, and Walmart want to create fleets of increasingly autonomous small drones, but drones that will still need supervision by human operators. At the same time Google, Apple, and all of the major car manufacturers are attempting to develop cars with varying degrees of autonomous operation that will require a very immediate and intimate relationship with humans both within and around these cars.

To enable this autonomy, greater and greater degrees of automated intelligence are also being devised by organizations such as IBM (Watson) and Google (TensorFlow). All of these generate new opportunities for fast moving, innovative companies focused directly on technologies that provide effective solutions to the teaming challenge.

by Dr. Walter W. Johnson.