Richard Mason

Richard Mason
Senior Engineer
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, California Institute of Technology; A.B. in physics, Harvard University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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Richard Mason is a senior engineer at the RAND Corporation. His research spans a range of defense technology issues. He has led projects on artificial intelligence for Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC); on laser weapon systems for AFSOC and for the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering; on backup systems to GPS for the Department of Homeland Security; on advanced technologies for Air Mobility Command; and on stratospheric surveillance airships for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He has written about photovoltaic aircraft and about low-cost air systems that deliver contraband into North Korea. Between 2003 and 2007 he developed three autonomous robot ground vehicles for DARPA. Mason received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and his A.B. in physics from Harvard University.

Recent Projects

  • Unmanned aircraft
  • Unmanned ground systems
  • Directed energy systems
  • Space, electronic, and cyber warfare
  • Missile defense

Selected Publications

Richard Mason, "Non-State Actors in North Korean Airspace," SAIS Review of International Affairs, 36(2), 2016

Richard Mason et al., "The Golem Group / University of California at Los Angeles Autonomous Ground Vehicle in the DARPA Grand Challenge," Journal of Field Robotics, 23(8), 2006

Honors & Awards

  • 2020 Bronze Medal Award "for changing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) plans for a backup to the domestic GPS system.", RAND
  • 2017 Silver Medal Award "for a stream of research that is helping U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command resolve the technical, operational, fiscal, and legal challenges posed by laser weapons.", RAND
  • 2014 Award for Research Excellence, RAND Project Air Force

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Defense News; Laser Focus World; Marketplace; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Popular Science; UCLA Magazine