Apr 4, 2022
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is in the process of modernising its forces to better address the growing challenges being faced by Australia in the Indo-Pacific region. The authors describe approaches the RAN might consider for enabling innovation with, and rapid acquisition of, robotics, autonomous systems, and artificial intelligence (RAS-AI) in the near and medium terms.
In 2020, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) released the Robotics, Autonomous Systems and Artificial Intelligence (RAS-AI) Strategy 2040. As part of the Campaign Plan to implement the strategy, the RAN asked RAND Australia to identify how international innovation and rapid acquisition practices might improve its processes to acquire and field RAS-AI.
The RAN is in the process of modernising its forces to better address the growing challenges Australia faces in the Indo-Pacific region. Increased state competition in the region combined with accelerated military modernisation have prompted the RAN to consider the use of RAS-AI systems in maritime roles and missions.
The authors used a combination of methodologies—literature reviews, a survey of current practice, and elicitations of subject-matter experts—to develop approaches the RAN might consider for enabling innovation with, and rapid acquisition of, RAS-AI capabilities in the near and medium terms.
The report's findings highlight that to innovate with RAS-AI systems most effectively, the RAN needs to ensure that leadership and guidance are provided from the highest levels to enable development of an innovation ecosystem that proactively engages academia and industry, including non-traditional stakeholders. The RAN must also clearly define and communicate current and future challenges, reduce barriers to marketplace entry and engagement, and form long-term relationships to ensure trust and credibility.
Selected Review of Literature on Military Innovation, Experimentation, and Rapid Acquisition
Survey of Exceptional Military Innovation Organisations in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States
Implications for the Royal Australian Navy
Findings and Recommendations