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Earl W. Powers

United States of America

Dr. Earl W. Powers

Future Forces Forum Future Forces Exhibition 2016 Military Advanced Robotic Systems (MARS) Conference 2016

Research Fellow, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities (CETO)


Human – Robotic & Autonomous Systems Teaming (H-RAST) Beyond 2030

The potential exists for robotic & autonomous systems (RAS) to become an integral part of every scenario across the range of military operations (ROMO). H-RAST is the interaction between humans and RAS to perform complex, real-world tasks. In military parlance, this has been known as manned-unmanned teaming (MUMT) and in the civilian world, human-robot interaction (HRI). This close interaction needs new theoretical models to improve the robot’s utility and to evaluate the risks and benefits of H-RAST in the future operating environment. Principal issues • RAS will evolve, especially in the commercial sector • RAS will be more capable and autonomous • Quantum computing still far off but computers are exponentially faster and can identify spoken words and analyze big data to learn skills like recognizing photos, understanding natural language, and developing courses of action (COAs) for consideration by commanders • RAS will increasingly supplement, complement, and augment human activities • RAS will be present in all operating environments • RAS will be employed by commercial, civil, hybrid, and military actors Research questions: • How will H-RAST influence the future operating environment? • What H-RAST capabilities will adversaries likely possess? • How will adversary H-RAST affect friendly operations? • What MUMT capabilities should friendly forces possess in order to counter adversary capabilities? • What H-RAST capabilities will neutral parties/non-combatants likely possess? Research methods: Mixed methods research, to include literature review, personal interaction, conference proceedings, and personal interviews. Conclusions: Robotics will continue to revolutionize just about every aspect of military operations but none more than the area of H-RAST. It is imperative that the military begin the important shift to increased use of robotics to ensure that we do not lag our adversaries in this coming capability.

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Bill Powers is a Research Fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies’ Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities supporting the U.S. Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration’s Futures Assessment Division in Quantico, Virginia. He served 33 years in the Marine Corps, retiring as a Colonel. He flew the A-4 Skyhawk and F/A-18 Hornet, served in Viet Nam and Desert Storm, and commanded a battalion, a squadron and a group. He has a dual Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science, a Master of Science in Business Administration, and a doctorate in Organizational Leadership.

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