The Task Force was asked to study relevant technologies, ongoing research, and the current autonomy-relevant plans of the Military Services, to assist the DoD in identifying new opportunities to more aggressively use autonomy in military missions, to anticipate vulnerabilities, and to make recommendations for overcoming operational difficulties and systemic barriers to realizing the full potential of autonomous systems.
The Task Force has concluded that, while currently fielded unmanned systems are making positive contributions across DoD operations, autonomy technology is being underutilized as a result of material obstacles within the Department that are inhibiting the broad acceptance of autonomy and its ability to more fully realize the benefits of unmanned systems. Key among these obstacles identified by the Task Force are poor design, lack of effective coordination of research and development (R&D) efforts across the Military Services, and operational challenges created by the urgent deployment of unmanned systems to theater without adequate resources or time to refine concepts of operations and training.
- The DoD should embrace a three-facet (cognitive echelon, mission timelines and human-machine system trade spaces) autonomous systems framework to assist program managers in shaping technology programs, as well as to assist acquisition officers and developers in making key decisions related to the design and evaluation of future systems.
- The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (ASD(R&E)) should work with the Military Services to establish a coordinated science and technology (S&T) program guided by feedback from operational experience and evolving mission requirements.
- The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD(AT&L)) should create developmental and operational test and evaluation (T&E) techniques that focus on the unique challenges of autonomy (to include developing operational training techniques that explicitly build trust in autonomous systems).
- The Joint Staff and the Military Services should improve the requirements process to develop a mission capability pull for autonomous systems to identify missed opportunities and desirable future system capabilities.