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Abstract. Ethical human supervision of unmanned maritime systems is foundational in future undersea warfare. Forward deployed unmanned systems in the human-machine team must comply with their Commander’s intent throughout the duration of their existence in future Undersea Warfare – in which harsh physical domains, long distance from the Commander, and prolonged time on-station stress the capabilities of the unmanned systems and limit their operator’s control. Therefore, in order to apply ethical control of unmanned systems in future undersea warfare, we develop an ontology for unmanned systems mission execution and design. We study four canonical missions for unmanned maritime systems with progressive sophistication in order to test and evaluate Ethical Control design on the autonomy of the unmanned systems. The goals of our research are to ensure unmanned maritime systems comply with existing policy guidance of the U.S. Department of Defense and relevant international organizations, and provide inputs to emerging policy guidance. Our vision is for Commanders to be confident in authorizing life-saving or lethal force from unmanned systems that operate under ethical control in collaboration with human forces. Ultimately, “Ethical Control leads to better warfighting.” Simulation playback of multiple key scenarios demonstrates these principles in action.

Precept. Well-structured mission orders can be syntactically and semantically validated to give human commanders confidence that offboard systems will do what they are told to do, and further will not do what they are forbidden to do.

Investigators. Don Brutzman, Curt Blais, Bob McGhee and Duane Davis.


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