System, the Remote Minehunting System, and the Remote Environmental Monitoring Unit System in order to refine concepts of operations, cost issues, logistics, and handling.
Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition (ASN(RD&A)) and the Chief of Naval Research (CNR) should direct the Navy and Marine Corps Systems Commands, the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) to partner with the operational community and monitor the concepts and development of critical autonomous vehicle-related technologies considered essential to the accomplishment of future naval missions. The progress of these developments should be tracked year to year. Specifically:
Pursue New Unmanned Surface Vehicle/Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Concepts and Technology Developments. The Chief of Naval Operations should establish a high-level working group to refine the requirements and concepts of operations for unmanned surface vehicles and other autonomous vehicles as an integral part of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and other naval operations. Once the LCS design is completed, planning for logistical support, maintenance and handling space, and launch-and-recovery systems for autonomous vehicles should be incorporated.
The ASN(RD&A) and the CNR should direct the ONR to monitor commercial developments in unmanned surface vehicle (USV)/unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV) technologies and to take maximum advantage of those developments for meeting the Navy’s needs. Specifically, the ASN(RD&A) and the CNR should direct ONR to invest in and develop networks of small UUVs. These efforts should include the leveraging of research and experimentation within the oceanographic research and oil exploration communities.
The ASN(RD&A) and the CNR should direct the ONR to conduct research into adaptive and cooperative autonomy and communications. ONR should develop better energy sources, as well as launch-and-recovery systems and environmental sensors for UUVs and USVs. Increased investment is needed in basic research and development in the areas of acoustics and optics as well as in sensors for mine hunting, including synthetic aperture sonar. ONR and the Naval Air Systems Command should focus on the modularity of components (propulsion, energy, and sensors), common architectures, common mission planning, and common integration pathways for data. The ASN(RD&A) and the CNR should ensure that UUVs and USVs, whenever possible, meet the interoperability and communications requirements of the Department of the Navy’s FORCEnet operational concept.