Robert B. Wesson, Ph.D.
In the course of a career covering virtually all aspects of developing, financing, operating, marketing and selling a company, Dr. Bob Wesson has proven to be a skilled executive, visionary entrepreneur, and adroit trouble-shooter and turnaround expert. Dr. Wesson invented the world's first 3D tower simulator for training air traffic controllers complete with speaker-independent voice recognition and true-to-life physics of motion; and created best-selling games and venture-capital-funded spreadsheets and word processors.
Throughout his career, he has been tapped to turn around troubled situations, envision and develop new products, and integrate cutting-edge technology into existing product lines, notably specializing in award-winning speech recognition interfaces. Bob has a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, USA. He is also a licensed multiengine instrument-rated pilot of a Piper Malibu, a blue-water yacht captain of The Fun Ticket, and anti-aging expert.
- Wesson, Voice-Activated Cockpit for General Aviation, The Wesson Group, May 24, 2006. The wealth of information available to the general aviation (GA) pilot has led to increased cockpit workloads which detract from the real-time situational awareness. As an addition to traditional (manual) systems control, speech recognition may offer more direct access to cockpit functions. In this research project, we designed and demonstrated a voice-activated cockpit (VAC) prototype. We 1) determined which GA cockpit functions can and should be voice-activated, 2) crafted a new BNF grammar for the chosen VAC functionality, 3) adapted Adacel’s speech recognition demo system to VAC, 4) demonstrated and experimented with VAC using a flight simulator, and 5) designed, built, and flew a VAC in a real test aircraft. We achieved acceptable recognition performance and identified the next steps necessary to optimize and transform this prototype into a certifiable new product category for General Aviation.
- Wesson, 50+ Proposals and Articles about ATC Simulators, Wesson International, Inc., 1989-present.
- Wesson, TRACON Users Manual, Wesson International, Inc., 1988.
- Wesson, ZenWord, ZenCalc, and ZenFile Users Manuals. Privately published, 1986.
- Wesson, Perfect Word, Perfect Calc, Perfect Link Users Manuals. Privately published by Perfect Software Inc, 1982.
- Wesson, K. Solomon, R. Steeb, P. Thorndyke, and K. Wescourt, Scenarios for Evolution of Air Traffic Control. Rand Corporation, R-2698-FAA, November 1981. Provides three scenarios for evolution of the United States' air traffic control (ATC) system from 1981 to 2000: a Baseline scenario in which human control skills are emphasized; an Automated En Route ATC (AERA) scenario in which most routine control functions are performed automatically by computers; and a Shared Control scenario in which human skills are augmented, but not replaced, by machine-based functions. Using the principles of cost effectiveness, technical conservatism, evolutionary progress, and human involvement as guidelines for analysis, these scenarios are compared and contrasted. Human roles, technical issues, and economic implications for each scenario are discussed, leading to the conclusion that human skills are an integral part of the ATC system and should be retained but extended via the Shared Control scenario.
- Wesson, An Alternative Scenario for Air Traffic Control: Shared Control. Rand Corporation, P-6703, August 1981.
- R. Steeb, S. Cammarata, F. Hayes-Roth, and R. Wesson, Distributed Intelligence for Air Fleet Control. Rand Corporation, R-2728, February, 1980. Distributed planning and control techniques provide potential advantages over centralized processing in speed, cost, reliability, flexibility, and minimization of long-distance communications for a variety of tasks, including military threat assessment, command and control decisionmaking, disaster relief coordination, and civilian air traffic control. Six different architectures for distribution of control among multiple processors are presented, and the influences of different task environments on each are discussed. The work focuses primarily on the use of distributed planning and control for civilian air traffic control. One architecture, in which each aircraft is controlled by a separate processor, is described in detail in an illustrative scenario. An initial system design is presented in which cooperating "experts" comprise a processor. These cooperating experts sense or infer aircraft intentions, generate and evaluate plans, control and monitor plan execution, and communicate with other processors.
- Wesson and F. Hayes-Roth, with J. Burge, C. Stasz, and C. Sunshine, Network Structures for Distributed Situation Assessment. Rand Corporation, R-2560-ARPA, May 1980. Also in IEEE Journal of Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, January, 1981. An investigation of potential organizations for automated distributed sensor networks (DSNs), i.e., dispersed nodes that can pool their information to perform accurate situation assessment. Laboratory experiments using a message puzzle task indicate that an "anarchic committee" organization, in which all nodes communicate with one another, consistently outperforms the "dynamic hierarchical cone" organization, in which communication is constrained and information must be obtained only from lower-level nodes. These experiments support the contention that DSNs must emphasize cooperative problem-solving rather than problem-reduction or subgoaling. A computer-based design that minimizes redundant communications in hierarchical organizations by using model-based reasoning to form expectations that guide, limit, and reduce reporting frequency is described. Finally, a method for representing hypotheses to minimize communication requirements--the process assembly network--is suggested. This concept uses active "hypotheses processes" that are responsible for predicting their own evolution over time.
- Wesson and R. S. Gaines, An Interactive Simulation System for Studying Tactical Warfare Decision making. Presented at 13th Annual Hawaii Systems Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii, January 1980. Also Rand Corporation, N-1454-AF, January 1980.
- Waterman, P. Klahr, W. Faught, S. Rosenschein, and R. Wesson, Design Issues for Exemplary Programming. Rand Corporation, R-2482-RSR, January 1980. Describes considerations and research questions for the design of an advanced exemplary programming (EP) system. The purpose of an EP system is to create small personalized programs capable of acting as interfaces to complex computer systems or as intelligent assistants to aid the user in his work. This Note summarizes the most recently implemented EP system, EP-2, but most of the discussion centers on design issues related to the proposed next-generation EP system, EP-3. This report should be of interest to computer and information scientists involved in providing computer users with tools to facilitate man-machine interaction.
- Wesson and F. Hayes-Roth, A Network Simulation for Distributed Situation Assessment. Presented at IEEE Symposium on Man, Cybernetics, and Society, Denver, Colorado, October 1979.
- Rosenschein, F. Hayes-Roth, M. Callero, R. Wesson, D. Gorlin, S. Cammarata. Decision Aids for the Tactical Planner. Rand Corporation, WD-386-ARPA, October 1979.
- Wesson and F. Hayes-Roth, Dynamic Planning: Searching Through Time and Space. Rand Corporation, P-6266, February 1979. Suggests planning by using a simulator to look ahead, predict potential conflicts, and improve current plans according to simple heuristics. The simulator may operate in cycles separated by either time or events. In the time-step simulation, with each repetition, time is incremented, rules are applied to current data values, and state variables are revised as necessary. An event driven simulation would step from event to event computing times of occurrence analytically. Level of abstraction (e.g., simulation granularity) would vary to enable highly efficient searching.
- Hayes-Roth and R. Wesson, Distributed Intelligence for Situation Assessment. Presented at The Distributed Sensor Nets Symposium, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, December 1978. Also Rand Corporation N-1447-ARPA, January 1980. The principal features of distributed intelligent (DI) system include a diversity of perspectives arising from separated individuals and a problem-solving method whereby the individuals can coordinate their activities to accomplish a collective objective. These features require numerous capabilities and supporting structures. A system that embodies such capabilities, however, seems especially well suited to situation assessment (SA) tasks. These tasks require the collection, analysis, and interpretation of widely disparate data. Moreover, comparably complex and distributed systems are often required to disseminate the results of these analyses effectively. This paper explores the relationships among structural capabilities of DI systems and functional requirements of effective SA systems. Discussed are some of the options and trade-offs of various architectural decisions in the context of two contrasting DI designs. (Author).
- Wesson, R., Problem-Solving with Simulation in the World of an Air Traffic Controller, Doctoral Dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, December 1977.
- Wesson, R., Planning in the World of the Air Traffic Controller. Presented at the Fifth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Boston, Massachusetts, August 1977. An enroute air traffic control (ATC) simulation has provided the basis for research into the marriage of discrete simulation and artificial intelligence techniques. A program which simulates, using real world data, the movement of aircraft in an ATC environment forms a robot's world model. Using a production system to respond to events in the simulated world, the robot is able to look ahead and form a plan of instructions which guarantees safe, expedient aircraft transit. A distinction is made between the real world, where pilots can make mistakes, change their minds, etc., and an idealized plan-ahead world which the robot uses; the over-all simulation alternates between updating the real world and planning in the idealized one to investigate the robot's ability to plan in the face of uncertainty.
Honors and Awards
- Phi Beta Kappa honorary scholastic fraternity
- PC Magazine Editor’s Choice Award
- Computer Gaming World Simulator Award
- ATCA Chairman’s Citation of Merit
- U.S. SBA Administrator’s Award for Excellence
- Maastricht Industry Award
- Engineering Product Innovation, Frost & Sullivan
- U. S. Air Force Citation of Merit