Supporting the Royal Australian Navy's Campaign Plan for Robotics and Autonomous Systems
Jul 18, 2022
This report provides an overview of the current landscape and trajectory of robotics, autonomous systems, and artificial intelligence from the perspective of maritime missions and enabling technologies. It discusses the missions and technology trends of different platforms (i.e., uncrewed aerial, surface, and underwater platforms) in the near and long term (out to 2040).
Emerging Missions and Technology Trends
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The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) recently launched a strategy for developing and employing robotics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence (RAS-AI) to be delivered through a campaign plan. A RAND Australia research team is supporting the RAN in this endeavour by building an evidence base to help identify and shape the underpinning activities. This report provides an overview of the current landscape and trajectory of maritime RAS-AI technologies in the near and long term (out to 2040) and a high-level review of the missions that might be possible in the near, medium, and long terms in light of relevant technological and non-technological enablers.
Rather than examining the wider integration of artificial intelligence in maritime operations, this report focuses on advances in missions and technologies underpinning uncrewed platforms, including uncrewed aerial, surface, and underwater vehicles. In addition to outlining the key technological enablers for near- and long-term RAS-AI missions, the report points to three key principles that should be taken into account in RAS-AI capability development: (1) a focus on the interaction of multiple technologies (both new and 'legacy' systems) rather than a single technological solution; (2) consideration of complementary advances in defence and commercial RAS-AI systems; and (3) monitoring of non-technical factors, such as evolving regulatory, legal, policy and ethical frameworks that might significantly shape future technology adoption pathways.
This research was sponsored by the Warfare Innovation Navy (WIN) Branch within the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and conducted by RAND Australia with support from RAND Europe researchers.
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