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Leveraging Unmanned Systems for Coast Guard Missions

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As unmanned systems (UxS) continue to develop and be used by other military services and federal agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard should proceed more aggressively and deliberately in taking advantage of UxS advancements, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The Coast Guard should also produce a high-level strategy with critical goals and actionable steps toward fully utilizing UxS technology, according to TRB Special Report 335: Leveraging Unmanned Systems for Coast Guard Missions.

UxS technologies include aerial, surface, and underwater vehicles with no human occupants; vehicles that may have a crew but with some level of remote control; and systems that are not vehicles.

As one of the country’s six military services, the Coast Guard also serves as a first responder, law enforcement agency, maritime regulator, and member of the intelligence community. Despite multiple initiatives to explore and assess the applicability of UxS to these areas, the Coast Guard lacks a formal means for identifying, investigating, and integrating systems. Meanwhile, UxS technological advancements continue to accelerate, driven by both commercial and military demands.


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National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Leveraging Unmanned Systems for Coast Guard Missions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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180 pages |6 x 9

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