6
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/ Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles

OVERVIEW

A number of recent studies have pointed out the importance of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the future of the naval forces. A multiplicity of cooperating and largely autonomous UAV sensor/ communication platforms are integral to the vision of network-centric operations, as was discussed in a recent Naval Studies Board report.1 In several other recent NSB reports,2,3 it was pointed out that the Navy currently lacks an adequate organic airborne sensor with the capabilities needed to target many of its long-range precision weapons or to supply defense against overland cruise missiles attacking forces ashore. The rapidly evolving UAV technology could supply these much needed sensor/vehicle capabilities in an effective and economic fashion. There is growing interest from the requirements side of the Navy in encouraging the exploitation of UAVs.

The Navy is pursuing uninhabited combat air vehicle (UCAV) technology in concert with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA approached the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) directly and proposed a joint DARPA/Navy version of the ongoing DARPA/U.S. Air Force UCAV ATD. Approved by the CNO in 2000 and now called UCAV-N, this joint ATD has been generously funded and is by far the largest UAV technology effort currently under way within the Navy. The UCAV-N program is well focused, is at the forefront of the state of the art, and fully leverages the existing U.S. Air Force (USAF) UCAV experience.4

1  

Naval Studies Board, National Research Council. 2000. Network-Centric Naval Forces: A Transition Strategy for Enhancing Operational Capabilities, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.

2  

Naval Studies Board, National Research Council. 1999. 1999 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Air and Surface Weapons Technology Program, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.

3  

Naval Studies Board, National Research Council. 2001. Naval Forces Capability for Theater Missile Defense, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.

4  

For further reading on the Department of Defense’s history of UAV technologies, as well as a recent review of a Code 351 (6.2) S&T UAV/UCAV effort, see Naval Studies Board, National Researh Council. 2000. Review of ONR’s Uninhabited Combat Air Vehicles Program, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.



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2001 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Aircraft Technology Program 6 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/ Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles OVERVIEW A number of recent studies have pointed out the importance of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the future of the naval forces. A multiplicity of cooperating and largely autonomous UAV sensor/ communication platforms are integral to the vision of network-centric operations, as was discussed in a recent Naval Studies Board report.1 In several other recent NSB reports,2,3 it was pointed out that the Navy currently lacks an adequate organic airborne sensor with the capabilities needed to target many of its long-range precision weapons or to supply defense against overland cruise missiles attacking forces ashore. The rapidly evolving UAV technology could supply these much needed sensor/vehicle capabilities in an effective and economic fashion. There is growing interest from the requirements side of the Navy in encouraging the exploitation of UAVs. The Navy is pursuing uninhabited combat air vehicle (UCAV) technology in concert with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA approached the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) directly and proposed a joint DARPA/Navy version of the ongoing DARPA/U.S. Air Force UCAV ATD. Approved by the CNO in 2000 and now called UCAV-N, this joint ATD has been generously funded and is by far the largest UAV technology effort currently under way within the Navy. The UCAV-N program is well focused, is at the forefront of the state of the art, and fully leverages the existing U.S. Air Force (USAF) UCAV experience.4 1   Naval Studies Board, National Research Council. 2000. Network-Centric Naval Forces: A Transition Strategy for Enhancing Operational Capabilities, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 2   Naval Studies Board, National Research Council. 1999. 1999 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Air and Surface Weapons Technology Program, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 3   Naval Studies Board, National Research Council. 2001. Naval Forces Capability for Theater Missile Defense, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 4   For further reading on the Department of Defense’s history of UAV technologies, as well as a recent review of a Code 351 (6.2) S&T UAV/UCAV effort, see Naval Studies Board, National Researh Council. 2000. Review of ONR’s Uninhabited Combat Air Vehicles Program, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.

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2001 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Aircraft Technology Program TABLE 6.1 ONR 351 Aircraft Technology Program Budget for UAV/UCAV-N Through FY02 (millions of dollars)   FY99 FY00 FY01 FY02 6.1 UAV research 2.4 4.3 4.0 4.0 6.2 UAV research (including CRW) 2.3 3.5 3.9 0.0 6.2 UAV autonomy (AO FNC) 0.0 0.0 0.0 7.0 6.3 UAV autonomy 0.0 0.0 0.0 3.0 6.3 UCAV-N (TCS FNC) 0.0 0.0 0.0 15.0   Total 4.6 7.8 7.9 29.0 Note: See Appendix C for definitions of acronyms used. At least 5 of the 12 new FNCs mentioned earlier in this report address UAV missions and technology. The UCAV-N program has been incorporated into the Time Critical Strike FNC. Along with the Autonomous Operations FNC, ONR 35 has an enormous opportunity to rapidly advance UAV/UCAV technology, with early transition as a prime objective. Three programs with different objectives were briefed to the committee. Each was of a different size and stage of maturity. The Canard Rotor Wing ATD program, begun in FY98, is terminating at the end of this calendar year. The UCAV-N ATD, begun last year, is well into Phase I and showing results, with Phase II to come. The Autonomous Operations FNC, on the other hand, is just moving out of the planning stage with initial funding and is expected to start up in FY02. At the end of this chapter, the committee suggests new topics for the future ATP in this area. Table 6.1 shows the ONR budget projection for the UAV/UCAV area in the ATP including FNC transitions. Note that in this budget listing, the Canard Rotor Wing ATD is presumably included in the 6.2 UAV research line ending in FY01. Note also that UAV propulsion will be included in the ATP budget for propulsion and power after FY01 (see Table 4.1). PROGRAMS REVIEWED Canard Rotor Wing This project represents the Navy’s small contribution to a current DARPA/Boeing ATD program that aims to demonstrate a novel class of aircraft suitable for UAV applications. The canard rotor wing (CRW) concept is a turbofan-powered, reaction-drive (via rotary-wing-tip jets), high-performance VTOL aircraft that uses its jet-driven rotary wing for vertical flight and converts in flight to a fixed-wing mode for fast (400+ knots) forward flight. The design offers a number of advantages for naval operations, in addition to ship-compatible VTOL capability, including the following: A projected flight envelope (altitude vs. airspeed) that exceeds that of the V-22 and helicopters in general, A turbofan that uses heavy fuels, which is compatible with ship operations, A transmissionless reaction-drive rotor system that offers low maintenance, and A potential for signature reduction.

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2001 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Aircraft Technology Program Because of these attractive features, the Navy has been funding a small amount of complementary research and development (R&D) efforts since FY98 to evaluate the CRW concept’s suitability for naval applications. The approach involves a comprehensive modeling program for validation and parametric characterization of the full vehicle based on first principles, with an emphasis on structural dynamics, i.e., rotor/fuselage structural interactions and aeroelastic effects. Existing commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) modeling tools (e.g., FlightLab and NASTRAN) are being used. This ATD is scheduled to end this year, with flight tests to begin in August 2001. The two demonstration vehicles being built for the program will be available to the government for further testing and evaluation after the program ends in December 2001. Findings The committee considers that the CRW has several projected vehicle characteristics that will be attractive for naval application and appear to offer significant advantages over traditional VTOL implementations. This ATD seems to represent the first serious attempt to demonstrate the full concept in hardware. Funding by ONR is quite small—$3.3 million compared with $31 million each for Boeing and DARPA—and limited to general program support (e.g., Navy experience, milestone reviews, risk-reduction experiments, and so on) and the modeling of the vehicle flight characteristics with COTS tools. In spite of the meager funding, the modeling effort is ambitious, addressing all major components of the vehicle (e.g., rotor/wing, canard, tail, and fuselage) as well as rotor/airframe dynamic coupling and the mutual interference between all lifting surfaces using dynamic wake theory. The models run in non-real time and involve different degrees of fidelity, as appropriate—for example, rigid blade to finite element. Successful correlation of the resulting FlightLab model with experimental data from the DARPA/Boeing team wind tunnel tests was claimed. While the quality of the modeling effort could not be easily judged from the results briefed and nothing seemed clearly inappropriate, the committee felt that there was nevertheless a certain amount of reinventing-of-the-wheel going on. Under questioning, the presenters acknowledged that they were unfamiliar with other directly relevant aeroelastic modeling efforts under way in industry and academia. Because this ATD is in its final stages, the plan presented for completing the program seems unrealistically aggressive, with many critical milestones scheduled between now and the end of the calendar year. This is definitely a success-oriented plan and as such will probably not be completed this year. ONR has requested another $300,000 to perform post-ATD flight demonstrations in FY02. Assuming success of the flight tests, the challenge remaining is to transition the CRW concept into future Navy UAV/UCAV designs or perhaps to position it as a candidate future upgrade for the Navy’s helicopter-like vertical takeoff and landing tactical uninhabited aerial vehicle (VTUAV) (planned as the Pioneer replacement), currently under contract for engineering and manufacturing development. Few such near-term opportunities are evident. Although nothing was said at the review, it appears that the CRW program at DARPA represents only half of a broader exploration of “innovative vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) concepts” to support the Navy and Marine Corps need for “affordable, survivable, VTOL UAVs to support dispersed units in littoral and urban areas."5 The overall program is known as the Advanced Air Vehicle (AAV) program and is said on the above-mentioned DARPA Web site to be a partnership between DARPA, 5   Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. 2001. “Tactical Technology Office (TTO) Programs—Hummingbird Warrior,” Arlington, Va., August 13. Available online at <http://www.darpa.mil/tto/programs/hum_war.html>.

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2001 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Aircraft Technology Program ONR, and industry. The AAV program has two components. The first is the CRW ATD just discussed and targeted for completion by the end of FY01. The second is the Hummingbird A160, or Hummingbird Warrior, scheduled through FY04. The A160 exploits a hingeless, rigid rotor concept to produce a VTOL with efficient low-power loiter and long endurance capabilities. On its Web site, DARPA describes the CRW and the A160 as being explored for surveillance and targeting, communications and data relay, lethal and nonlethal weapons delivery, assured crew recovery, and special operations missions in support of Navy, Marine Corps, Army, and other agency needs.6 In summary, the DARPA Hummingbird A160 effort, while not as advanced as the CRW effort, offers the potential of longer range and greater endurance than the CRW. Recommendations The committee recommends that the CRW flight test program be supported to completion in FY02 but should then be transitioned out of S&T. Additional funding for the program may be required in FY02 since the flight test program will probably last longer than currently planned. The committee recommends no further development dollars be spent beyond the completion of the currently planned flight test program. If the test is successful, any follow-on efforts should focus on identifying real transition opportunities. VTUAVs and multirole endurance (MRE) UAVs do not seem to be real near-term transition opportunities as MRE may never happen and VTUAV is already defined and contracted. For future Navy UAV/UCAV developments, however, the demonstrated CRW concept definitely should be considered. As a partner in the A160 effort, ONR should pay a great deal of attention to the technologies and capabilities of the Hummingbird A160, incorporating its concepts into future Navy UAV/UCAV developments as soon as they have been successfully demonstrated by the AAV program. Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle-Navy The goal of the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle-Navy (UCAV-N) ATD program is to demonstrate the technical ability of a UCAV system to effectively and affordably prosecute sea-based surveillance, suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD), and strike missions within the emerging global command and control architecture. The 6-year program is well funded at $156 million—split equally between DARPA and the Navy—and emphasizes factors that are unique to the Navy, e.g., the desirability of ship-based launch and recovery and general compatibility with existing Navy infrastructure and CONOPS. The program was approved by the CNO in January 2000 and later incorporated into the Time Critical Strike FNC. Both Boeing (the Air Force prime contractor) and Northrop Grumman are under contract for Phase I, with a Phase II execution decision scheduled for early FY02. The current strategy is to retain both contractors for the full program, i.e., through Phase II, scheduled to end in FY04. Findings The committee was impressed by this program and by the enthusiastic technical support team leader, who seemed remarkably well informed on all technical aspects of the program. This is an excellent program that is well structured and aggressive, with realistic and meaningful goals. The 6   Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. 2001. “Tactical Technology Office (TTO) Programs—Advanced Air Vehicle (AAV),” Arlington, Va., August 13. Available online at <http://www.darpa.mil/tto/>.

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2001 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Aircraft Technology Program UCAV-N effort consciously complements the Air Force’s program. Naval-unique issues are of prime importance, particularly carrier deck operations and integration with the Navy command, control, communications, computing, and intelligence (C4I) infrastructure. Phase IA of the two-phase program was devoted to a systematic progression from UCAV mission simulations to concepts of operations, conceptual design of operational vehicles and systems, trade-off studies of effectiveness and affordability, and the identification of critical technologies, processes, and system attributes. Phase I was completed on March 31, 2001, and the program is progressing steadily toward the final Phase II demonstrations of such things as air vehicles, a multiple-air-vehicles mission-control system for strike and SEAD, robust and secure C3, and related vehicle health and logistics support systems. The two selected airframe contractors, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, are exceptionally well qualified. Boeing’s role as the UCAV-A prime contractor and Northrop Grumman’s as the Navy’s VTUAV contractor assure the explicitly intended leveraging of the DARPA/USAF UCAV ATD and provide a good understanding of naval-unique UAV/UCAV issues. The tough part of UCAV is not the airplane; it is the technologies that enable an unmanned system as part of an integrated military operation. The UCAV-A ATD has made excellent progress in defining a set of technologies required for achieving an operational UCAV capability, but it will go only a very short way toward developing and demonstrating those technologies, because it is rapidly becoming consumed with development and demonstration of the airplane. Recommendations The committee strongly endorses the UCAV-N program but recommends that it maintain a strong focus on the technologies that enable the UCAV to be part of a naval operation, namely, its ability to be integrated into the existing command, control, and communications (C3) infrastructure and carrier deck operations. In general, the committee recommends that the UCAV-N program continue to pay close attention to what UCAV-A will not develop and focus its efforts and demonstrations in those areas. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Autonomy Scheduled to begin in FY02, the Autonomous Operations FNC is planned to be adequately funded. It addresses four topics: UAV autonomy (total $10 million/yr), UAV propulsion ($1.5 million/yr), unmanned ground vehicle autonomy ($5 million/yr), and an unmanned underwater vehicle program ($15 million/yr). Only the UAV autonomy portion was presented to the committee. The generic objective of the Autonomous Operations FNC is to develop technologies that will dramatically increase the performance and affordability of naval organic unmanned vehicle systems. The UAV autonomy program, in particular, seeks to produce an autonomous, intelligent, real-time surveillance and reconnaissance capability that will permit UAVs/UCAVs to perform various missions with effectiveness comparable to that of manned aircraft yet with a greatly reduced need for human intervention. Long-term goals look to the development of an autonomous vehicle control capability that not only flies the aircraft but is also capable of distributed, collaborative operations with other unmanned and manned aircraft, planning in the face of uncertainty, independent action/adaptation, and situation- and self-awareness—all with minimal human intervention. To implement this ambitious UAV/UCAV vision, ONR plans a combination of support contractors, various workshops and working groups from industry, academia, and government, and a broad area

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2001 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Aircraft Technology Program announcement (BAA) that has just been issued. Included in the plans are in-depth assessments of current autonomy-related activities throughout the military and defense contractor community. Leveraging this base of existing knowledge, requirement definitions and system design concepts are to be established, leading to an intelligent autonomy systems architecture for UAVs/UCAVs. As currently envisioned, these efforts culminate in a series of time-phased demonstrations of risk reduction technology that sequentially address situational awareness, multivehicle collaboration, and intelligent autonomy. The term “intelligent autonomy” seems to encompass the complete range of autonomous man-machine combinations—from total operator control to fully autonomous, no-link operation, including all of the mission and task capabilities proven in the first two risk reduction demonstrations. Findings The committee found the Autonomous Operations FNC to be a program in its infancy. The program offers laudable, elevated goals described in such terms as autonomous, intelligent, real-time, distributed, collaborative, dynamic, unstructured, independent, self-aware, intelligent adversary, and capable of operating on their own in controlled airspace (civil and military). However, in spite of the substantial level of funding projected (~$14 million/yr of 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 combined), no details of how these objectives are to be attained were provided to the committee. It was pointed out to the committee that a BAA had been issued with a response date of August 10, 2001.7 However, the descriptions of the areas of interest are so generic (i.e., “new and innovative research…which will advance UAV autonomy systems technology required by future UAV missions”) that the BAA is basically a call for creative concepts. Apparently the Autonomous Operations FNC program is to be detailed after the BAA responses are received. While good ideas can be obtained by means of BAAs, there is considerable risk in not having a better definition of requirements at this stage of a major FNC. The overall program is to be a sequence of three demonstrations, with increasing levels of integration. If well chosen, these demonstrations can provide the needed structure. However, these planned “technical capability/products” demonstrations seem to be somewhat misdirected. That is, the first two overemphasized various sensor (e.g., data processing, ATR, displays) and communication (e.g., data relays, networking) capabilities and issues that have little or nothing to do with whether manned or unmanned vehicles are involved. These two demonstrations, as presented, touch on autonomy only peripherally. There is an abrupt jump in the third demonstration into the ultimate state of intelligent autonomy, with fully developed dynamic, autonomous in-flight replanning and threat reaction without link operation. Clearly this conceptual structure for the UAV portion of the FNC needs to be rethought and oriented more closely to the real problems of autonomy. Recommendations Autonomous operation certainly merits an investment, but the current acquisition strategy in UAV autonomy has serious problems. The program has very limited resources for attacking what is a very broad and deep set of problems. For ONR to expect to have any impact at all, the committee recommends a dramatic narrowing of the UAV autonomy focus within the FNC. 7   Mersten, Gerald, Office of Naval Research. 2001. “Research and Science & Technology (RS&T) in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Autonomy,” Commerce Business Daily, Solicitation Number: BAA 01–017, May 15.

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2001 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Aircraft Technology Program For example, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to date on the development of automatic target detection, recognition, and identification technologies and other automated exploitation technologies. These technologies apply to any surveillance and reconnaissance system, whether unmanned or manned. ONR’s limited investment will not make a dent in this effort, nor is it a technical area uniquely required to enable unmanned capabilities. The committee recommends that ONR not fund such surveillance and reconnaissance efforts under UAV autonomy in the AO FNC. Global Hawk, VTUAV, Time Critical Strike (TCS), Predator, the Army’s TUAV, and the Air Force and Navy UCAV programs are developing myriad technologies for autonomous navigation, vehicle management, and sensor management. The committee also recommends that the work of the Air Force Studies Board summer study on automation in combat aircraft8 be considered in the formation of the ONR program. The committee recommends that ONR exploit advances made by others in autonomous navigation, vehicle management, and sensor management and that it sharply curtail additional investments in these areas. Investment is needed in such key areas as decision aids for command and control (C2) and rapid, adaptive mission planning and execution to respond to changing environments. The programs mentioned above have just scratched the surface in developing key technologies in these areas, yet these technologies will ultimately determine how effective UAVs become in future military operations. The committee therefore recommends that ONR concentrate its efforts in UAV autonomy on the challenging deficiencies in decision aids for C2 and rapid, adaptive mission planning and execution, reexamining the proposed sequence of demonstrations to achieve the proper focus. There are also significant doctrinal and policy issues that must be addressed for both strategic and tactical UAVs with attack capabilities. There is a tremendous amount to be learned from ongoing UAV developments that could help to sharpen the focus of the investment. The committee recommends that the key people in those programs be involved with prioritizing and selecting technology focus areas. With respect to the BAA that has just been released, the committee recommends that there be a clear definition of the awardees’ relationship with, and involvement in, the planned focused demonstrations for 2003 and beyond. The idea was to bring the successful developers together in three focused demonstration events to quantify the benefits of different technologies. Without a clear sense of what the individual awardees are to design to, it is hard to imagine how this can happen. An integrated demonstration, just like an integrated system, requires interfaces and specifications to be defined first, to avert chaos. Without clear upfront definition of what is expected, white papers and proposals will probably be meaningless. The committee recommends that ONR slow down the BAA process to allow defining the demonstration platforms and venue more precisely and redefining the demonstrations to sharpen the focus on critical autonomy issues. Also, if the VTUAV is to be used as a demonstration platform, a firm relationship needs to be established with Northrop Grumman, builder of the VTUAV, to ensure a clear pathway for integration of the technology/system provided by an awardee. The committee recommends that the VTUAV platform builder have at least an associate contractor relationship with the developer; otherwise the government will be in the position of being the integrator—a task that government has proven time and again it is ill-equipped to perform. Accordingly, the committee recommends that ONR not fund areas, such as automatic target recognition, that other agencies are addressing with far greater resources. Rather, it should address key areas 8   Committee on Automation in Combat Aircraft, Air Force Studies Board, National Research Council. 1982. Automation in Combat Aircraft, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.

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2001 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Aircraft Technology Program such as decision aids for C2 and rapid, adaptive mission planning and execution. The committee further recommends that the demonstrations planned as part of a new BAA need to be far better planned and defined to focus on critical autonomy issues. The committee also believes that ONR would benefit substantially from a thorough review of projected goals, technology transition potential, and the associated technical, operational, and financial risk. This review should be conducted by an independent panel of highly qualified individuals and undertaken with consideration of inputs obtained from the BAAs. Furthermore, in spite of the critical importance of reliable autonomous behavior for future manned and unmanned naval systems, autonomy, as a technological discipline, remains diffuse and immature. Recently, in the commercial world, flexible and autonomous software systems have begun to emerge for such applications as e-commerce, logistics, and manufacturing hosted in distributed computing environments. Many of these products may apply to naval needs, and while ONR would be wise to leverage and complement these development efforts for its own applications (rather than compete directly), the technology underlying autonomous systems appears to be relatively unstructured and undocumented. The current state of the art seems to be little more than a collection of ad hoc techniques—e.g., software agents, data fusion, adaption and learning, image understanding, behavior-based intelligence metaheuristics, and so on.9 These proposed components of autonomy technology show little obvious relationship to one another. The underlying mathematical and engineering principles that unify these topics are not at all evident. In addition, current practice for the design of autonomous systems appears to be based on heuristic rather than structured approaches and the underlying philosophy is rarely, if ever, adequately documented. Without question, these are difficult issues—particularly the identification of fundamental unifying principles—and may not be easily resolved, but they would seem to be worthy of attack. While the commercial world will no doubt address some of these issues, it is not motivated to freely distribute the resulting information, for obvious reasons. Suggested Topics in UAV/UCAV for the Future ATP The committee also offers for consideration as part of the future ATP in this area three S&T topics: A small, but focused, 6.1 effort addressing the fundamental technology issues of autonomy— namely, the identification, structuring, and documentation of the mathematical and engineering principles that are inherent in the concept of autonomous behavior of complex military systems. This should not be thought of as an effort by a large team, because it is by no means a straightforward engineering task. Rather, the team can hope to succeed only if it is small and consists of the appropriate, knowledgeable contributors. This is definitely a long shot but worth the attempt, because someone should be thinking about fundamentals in this important arena. Another task of interest would be the development, documentation, and publication of guidelines for the structured design of autonomous systems. This would be extremely useful to the Navy and the whole autonomy community, even if the techniques employed remain largely heuristic. It should include such things as the fundamental concepts and proven system architectural options 9   Naval Studies Board, National Research Council. 2000. Review of ONR’s Uninhabited Combat Air Vehicles Program, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 20–26.

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2001 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Aircraft Technology Program and design practices, including the introduction of meaningful figures of merit for trading off such parameters as machine versus human functionality. Because of the need for mission performance to be highly reliable—perhaps as reliable as safe manned flight—the fault tolerance and fail-safe characteristics of all flight-safety-critical control technologies on UAVs and UCAVs should be extended, as required, to ensure that mission-critical functions are performed reliably.