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Canada - Robotic and Autonomous Forces

The Canadian Armed Forces have had a difficult time developing policy and capability in the the area of semi-autonomous - never mind autonomous capabilities. This lack of policy and capability is all the more amazing given Canada's technological capabilities, its vast geography (land, sea, air & space), heightened military tensions in areas of critical strategic interest to Canada and the decisive military requirement for wide ranging drone defence capabilities in space, air, land, maritime and cyberspace environments. As intelligent systems costs plunge and capabilities rise swarm approaches represent a sea change in all aspects of military planning and execution.

Despite obvious ethical and proliferation concerns, autonomous robotic weapons systems are seeping into militaries around the world. Automation in warfare is not a new phenomena. We have seen however recent accelerated progress in AI capabilities that call for a rethinking of defence policy assumptions. The obvious acceleration of intelligent information systems and the capacity of individuals and small groups as well as nation states to make use of those capabilities raises disturbing questions about the immediate and long term future of human civilization.

This strongly argues for a two pronged approach to intelligent weapons systems:

- An international policy thrust to encourage international regulation of autonomous intelligent weapons systems

- A defence policy that accelerates full integration of intelligent systems into all existing defence platforms and a rethink of defence doctrine and capabilities

After an unbelievable history of foot dragging and foggy thinking on semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles, Canada needs to accelerate the building of an in-depth, robust intelligent defence capability or face rapid decline in its defence capability and ability to contribute to the collective defence of the western alliance. This article "Don�t Panic! What to know about Canada�s use of drones" by @StephanieCarvin lends some perspective.

I recommend the reading of this June 2016 report by the US Defense Science Board (DSB) Summer Study on Autonomy and I refer you to my website CascadiaPrime Cognition for a fuller appreciation of artificial intelligence developments. More important than the technology (AI & Autonomy) is the operational and organizational constructs, and the training of the force and the exercise of the force to be ready to employ the new capabilities.

When, and if, I hear an articulate Canadian thrust on a policy to encourage international regulation of autonomous intelligent weapons systems it will be listed here.


Canada Defence - Drone and Robot News

  Dronebase Updates - Worldwide
  Twitter: #drones
  Twitter: #robotics
  Twitter #UCAV
  Twitter #UUV
  Twitter #UAV
  Twitter @NavalDrones
  Twitter #UAS
  Twitter #USV
  Twitter #CanUAV
  Twitter #UnmannedWarrior
  ASDNews - Unmanned Systems
  Google Search - Joint Uninhabited Surveillance and Target Acquisition System ( JUSTAS ) Project

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Maritime Environment (Surface & Underwater)
  Canada's navy is developing an AI voice assistant for warships, but don't worry: It won’t control the weapons (February 2, 2020)
  US Navy Advances Future "Ghost Fleet" - Swarming Aerial, Surface and Undersea Drones (February 2, 2017)
  The US Navy�s Autonomous Swarm Boats Can Now Decide What to Attack (December 14, 2016)
  Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) fields two unmanned underwater vehicles in anti-mine Exercise UNMANNED WARRIOR 2016 (December 13, 2016)
  New Drones Are Being Developed for the French Navy (October 20, 2016)
  USNI News: Interview: Rear Adm. Robert Girrier on the Future of the Navy�s Unmanned Systems (October 12, 2016)
  Expansion in Networked Warfare with F-35 MADL SM-6 test - Quality has a Quantity All Its Own. Third offset strategy (September 13, 2016)
  US Marine Corp Marine Aviation Plan 2016 - Marine Unmanned Aircraft Systems - page 86 Specs page 221
  After distributed lethality - unmanned netted lethality - �If it floats, it fights.� (September 1, 2016)
  Unmanned mine hunting capabilities (September 1, 2016)
  Defence Research and Development Canada�s (DRDC) Radar Electronic Warfare team working on electronic jamming equipment on unmanned vessels to protect manned vessels (July 18, 2016)
  US Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) "Sea Hunter" completes initial performance trials (July 25, 2016)
  Final Report of the Defense Science Board (DSB) Summer Study on Autonomy (June 10, 2016)
  Canada Restarts Attempt to Buy Drones (May 16, 2016)
  Canadian Government releases Request for Information for the DND Joint Unmanned Surveillance and Target Acquisition System (JUSTAS) (January 15, 2016)
  Canadian Forces Procurement � JUSTAS Project for UAVs � July 2013/May 2015 - a timeline of unaction dating from 1999 (Excellent links in the notes)
  US Navy MQ-25A Stingray First Carrier UAV - draft request for proposal end of 2016 (July 15 2016)
  Securing Australia�s oceans: the case for unmanned maritime vehicles (July 13, 2016) - maritime domain awareness (MDA) strategy
  ASPI: Special Report, Australian Border Security and Unmanned Maritime Vehicles (July 2016)
  US ONR: AI Kits for Autonomous swarm small vessels - defensive and offensive
  BAE: New unmanned systems command and control technology at the Unmanned Warrior exercises in October (Maple) (June 3, 2016)
  Maritime Offboard and Unmanned Assets - Managing multi-domain unmanned campaigns(March 2016)
  CDN Armed Forces divers work with autonomous underwater vehicles in the Baltic off Lithuania seeking WWII mines (May 27, 2016)
  Wave Glider: Autonomous Floating Robot Navigates Adventures on High Seas (April 19, 2016)
  Royal Navy uses pilotless aircraft to navigate through ice (April 15, 2016)
  Royal Navy senior technology officer: Seaborne drones will become �critical� to naval warfare within a decade (April 15, 2016)
  AeroVironment to Supply Blackwing Mini UAVs for US Navy Attack, Guided Missile Submarines (May 16, 2016)
  Underwater Communications and the Level of Autonomy of AUVs (Intrinsic limitations on man in the loop) (June 8 2015)
  Israel Unmanned surface vessel (June 2015)
  Autonomous Underwater Vehicles Could Be Canada's Future In The Arctic (Summer 2015)
  Naval Review: The Future of Autonomous Marine Systems in the Canadian Navy J. Matthew Gillis (Winter 2011)
  Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to become the go-to technologies to deal with crisis situations from humanitarian relief to piracy at sea
  Submaran S10 prototype is an autonomous aquatic vehicle that has the capabilities of both surface-sailing and submersible vessels. (July 20, 2016)
   The Navy Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) Master Plan (November 9, 2004)

Air Environment

  presentation outlines potential future mission sets, including air-to-air combat, and how the drones will fit into the service's larger plans. (June 24, 2020)
  AFCEA:Game of Drones - In future an advance wave of unmanned platforms equipped with EA payloads could provide the lead for attacking aircraft from carrier strike groups to disable enemy IADS (November 1 , 2016)
  Drone Wingmen for Japanese Fighter Jocks (October 10, 2016)
  These Swarming Drones Launch from a Fighter Jet�s Flare Dispensers (September 2016)
  Designing a Laser to Defeat Drone Swarms (July 2016)
  Unmanned air combat�how soon is too soon? (July 22, 2016)
  CNAS: The Cost Case for Naval Uninhabited Combat Aircraft (August, 2015)
  New artificial intelligence beats tactical experts in combat simulation (June 27, 2016)
  Genetic Fuzzy based Artificial Intelligence for Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle Control in Simulated Air Combat Missions (March 2016)
  US Strategic Capabilities Office - lifts one veil: F-35 as AI control center for unmanned networked maneuverable fighters (March 10, 2016)
  Drone Swarm Will Fly Alongside F-35 Fighter Jet: Air Force Scientist (July 7, 2016)
  US Air Force turns its attention to small UAS platforms (May 26, 2016)
  US Airforce Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems SUAS Flight Plan 2016 - 2036 - Bridging the Gap from Tactical to Strategic
  US Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap FY2013-2038
  All-British Taranis UCAV (unmanned combat aerial vehicle) demonstrator flight details described (July 9, 2016)
  Wiki BAE Systems Taranis
  Video of Taranis intercontinental UCAV
  'Neuron' Combat Drone Completes First Sea Trials (July 9, 2016)
  Wiki List of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

Land Environment

   (November 30, 2017 )
  FLIR Acquires World�s Lightest UAS Developer Prox Dynamics (November 30, 2016 )
  Arrows from the Ground � Or how an incident on 17 March 2017 may change the relationship between ground and air forces (May 3, 2017)
  New U.S. Army Manual Warns Troops About Small Drones (August 26, 2016)
  Canada Buys Blackjack Unmanned Aircraft System from United States under U.S. Foreign Military Sales program (August 26, 2016)
  US Marine Infantry Squads May Get Their Own Drone Operators & Info management specialists (August 11, 2016)
  Canada's buys second hand fixed-wing unmanned RQ-21A Blackjack system from US Navy for use by the Canadian Army (July 2016)
  Will JUSTAS Prevail? Procuring a UAS Capability for Canada (RCAF Journal - WINTER 2015 - Volume 4, Issue 1)
  DRDC � Ottawa Research Centre: Counter-measures against drone surveillance

Space Environment

  Canada's Space Forces
  Canada's space sector - Space Robotics
  How Space Forces integrate with other assets: an Australian case study for a maritime domain awareness (MDA) strategy
  Britain�s New Spy Planes Are Practically Spacecraft (August 22, 2016)

Control Architecture

  DARPA seeking mathematically optimized human machine A-Teams (November 29, 2016)
  Cognitive automation? - the scaling problem, the sustaining pace problem, tempo
  Precision Strike Suite � Special Operations Forces (PSS-SOF) software - use in Iraq against ISIS (July 14, 2016)

Assured communications

  AFCEA: "Increasing Roles of Autonomous Systems in Military Operations: Challenging Requirements of the Information Network."(November 1, 2016)
  Facebook's solar-powered internet drone takes maiden flight (July 22, 2016)

Anti - Robot and Autonomous Systems (RAS) Capability

  Raytheon Sets Phasers to Drone Destruction with Directed Energy Weapon Test November 28, 2016)
  Pentagon wants injection of $20mn to fight ISIS drones (July 9, 2016)
  U.S. Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency (July 9, 2016)
  The MITRE Challenge: Countering Unauthorized Unmanned Aircraft Systems (August 12-19, 2016)
  Rafael Tackles Drone Menace (July9, 2016)

Canada Policy Formulation

  After A Decade, Canada Has Drones (September 3, 2016)
  Top military commander in favour of Canada using armed drones (March 2016)
  Trudeau government quietly shopping for military drones � in the midst of pressure to arm them (February 2016)
  Canada and Afghanistan Are Getting Military Drones, as the World's UAV Club Grows - 86 countries some sort of drone capability, both armed and unarmed (March 2016)
  Canada Military Journal: Lethal Autonomous Systems and the Future of Warfare by Daniel Sukman (Winter 2015)
  Mark Collins - The RCAF�s Infinitely Lingering U(C)AV Program
  Canada Restarts Attempt to Buy Drones (May 16, 2015)
  Canadian military drone plan grounded amid debate (2014)
  Canada contemplating buying fleet of armed drones, top general says (2013)

UK Policy Formulation

  Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon agrees �100M contract to develop cutting-edge Protector Remotely Piloted Air System especially for RAF. (December 4, 2016)
  UK Commons Briefing papers SN06493: Overview of military drones used by the UK Armed Forces (September 11, 2015)
  UK: Joint Committee on Human Rights Government's policy on use of drones for targeted killing (Ongoing)
  RAS UK 2020 Robotics and Autonomous Systems - A national strategy to capture value in a cross-sector UK RAS innovation pipeline through co-ordinated development of assets, challenges, clusters and skills (July 2014)
  THE UK APPROACH TO UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS Joint Doctrine Note 2/11 (JDN 2/11), (March 30 2011)

US Policy Formulation

  The Algorithm Age In the defense and intelligence communities, machine learning has graduated from nascent to operational (January 31, 2018)
  Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: Project Maven brings AI to the fight against ISIS (December 21 2017)
  Paper: By Elsa B. Kania: Battlefield Singularity: Artificial Intelligence, Military Revolution, and China�s Future Military Power (November 2017)
  The Most Militarily Decisive Use of Autonomy You Won�t See (November 7, 2016)
   20YY: Preparing for War in the Robotic Age By Robert O. Work, and Shawn Brimley (January 22, 2014)
  US-China Commission Report: China�s Industrial and Military Robotics Development (October 2016)
  Wired Interview: President Obama on artificial intelligence (October 12, 2016)
  CS Monitor: Pentagon is worrying about 'Terminator' coming true. Seriously. (September 3, 2016)
  The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called today for an international debate about the use of intelligent weapons and of boosted human beings (August 23, 2016)
  Report of the US Defense Science Board Summer Study on Autonomy (June 2016)
  US Drone Spending in Fiscal 2017 Defense Budget (February 15, 2016)
  United States Unmanned Integrated Unmanned Systems Roadmap (FY 2013-2038) (2013)
  United States the first nation to have an official policy statement on autonomous weapons systems called Directive 3000.09
  Washington Post: The killer robot threat: Pentagon examining how enemy nations could empower machines (March 30, 2016)

Australian Policy Formulation

  Robotics and Autonomous Systems Report - rethinking the playing field
  The potential use by the Australian Defence Force of unmanned air, maritime and land platforms (June 25, 2015)

China Policy Formulation

  US-China Commission Report: China�s Industrial and Military Robotics Development (October 2016)
  China Military Unmanned Ground System Challenge wraps up in Beijing (October 19, 2016)
  China building modular next-generation cruise missiles using artificial intelligence (August 19 2015)
  "Soar Dragon" UAV now in serial production (July 2015)
  FP: China�s Drone Program Keeps Stealthily Inching Forward (January 2015)
  The Chinese People�s Liberation Army�s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Project: Organizational Capacities and Operational Capabilities (March 11, 2013)
  India develops capabilities as offset to China Capabilities (July 2016))

Russia Policy Formulation

  Russian Defense Contractor Unveils New 3D Printed Drone at Trade Fair (July 11, 2016)
  The Pentagon is Nervous about Russian and Chinese Killer Robots (December 14, 2015)
  Russian Robots
  Russia Upgrading Bal Mobile Coastal Defense System with X-35U Missiles and UAV for Targeting
  Rubin design bureau is set to create a series of modular unmanned underwater craft (June 27, 2016)


  A Revolution Too Far? US Defence Innovation, Europe and NATO�s Military-Technological Gap (May 1, 2016)
  Deputy Secretary of Defense Speech The Third U.S. Offset Strategy and its Implications for Partners and Allies (January 28, 2015)
  NASA Marks Success for Most Complex Drone Traffic Management Test Yet at FAA Test Sites (April 21, 2016)
  Insitu Introduces Drone-Launched Drone (May 2016)
   Airbus, has created a mini-plane, named Thor, which is the world's first 3D printed UAV (June 6, 2016)
  The RoboBees project (June 7, 2016)
  Arizona State researcher controls multiple drones with his mind (July 16, 2016)
  Swarm Bots It Can Retrieve in Midair (August 28, 2015)

Operations Issues

  ACM: Learning Securely - Adversarial machine learning (2016)
  BAE�s laser-guided air-to-ground rockets Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) modular so it can fit on several different kinds of manned and unmanned combat aircraft and helicopters (June 9, 2016)
  Affordability driving high-speed, long-range, low-cost, limited-life strike UAV development (July 11, 2016)
  Manazir: Networked Systems Are The Future Of 5th-Generation Warfare, Training (May 18, 2016)
  WP: Drone "Blowback"? (May 17, 2016)
  A Categorical Error: Rethinking 'Drones' as an Analytical Category for Security Policy (April 24, 2016)
  Fighter dropped diminutive drones (March 2016)
  The Diplomat: Why Concerns Over Drone Proliferation Are Overblown (May 2016)

Canadian Acquisitions

  Rheinmetall Canada to provide an off-board Electronic Counter Measure (ECM) payload for the Royal Canadian Navy�s (RCN) Hammerhead Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV). (October 18, 2019)
  Canada's buys second hand fixed-wing unmanned RQ-21A Blackjack system from US Navy for use by the Canadian Army (July 2016)

Potential Canadian Acquisitions

  General Atomics Aeronautical Certifiable Predator B RPA (Developmental)
  RAF Selects PREDATOR B CPB for PROTECTOR Programme (July 2016)
  Google Predator CPB

International Policy Formulation

  New Declaration on UAV Exports Unlikely to Reduce Drone Proliferation (November 20, 2016)
  Arms Control Association - Fact Sheet The Missile Technology Control Regime at a Glance (August 2016)
  United Nations Office Geneva (UNOG) - Background Documents - Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems
  Buzz Feed: Attack of the Killer Robots (August 26, 2016) - of one gram shaped charges & nightmares

Ethics and Autonomous Systems

  EIA Interview with Robert Sparrow on Autonomous Weapon Systems and Respect in Warfare (August 16, 2016)

International Think Tanks and Policy Organizations

  Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College @DroneCenter
  The Eisenhower School for National Security and Resources: Robots and Autonomous Systems (Spring 2015)
  Rand - Armed Drones Study (2014)
  Center for New American Security (CNAS) Proliferated Drones - What happens when everyone has drones?

General Resources

  Military & Electronics News on unmanned vehicles
  Unmanned Systems Canada
  MDA Corporation
  Drone Base Updates - largely MENA countries
  Top 10 Drones -video footage
  PBS Nova - Military Drone Technology:2014 (full documentary)
  The Ethics of Autonomous Weapons Systems - Background Documents
  Human Rights Watch - Q & A on Fully Autonomous Weapons (October 21, 2013)
  Harvard Law School - Autonomous Weapons Systems and International Humanitarian Law (February 5, 2013)
  How to Build a Moral Robot
  The Dark Side of Ethical Robots (June 2016)
  H4D: Hacking for Defense (June 3, 2016)
  Motherboard: JASON KOEBLER: Is Flying a Drone Illegal? A Comprehensive Guide to America�s Drone Laws (June 7, 2016)
  As artificial intelligence in military robots advances, the meaning of warfare is being redefined (May 31, 2016)
  Why Should We Ban Autonomous Weapons? To Survive (June 1, 2016)
  HBR: When to Trust Robots with Decisions, and When Not To (May 17, 2016)
  Tech Crunch: Vasant Dhar: How can we control intelligent systems no one fully understands? (May 17, 2016)
  The Consequences of Drone Proliferation: Separating Fact from Fiction (January 25, 2016)
  Wiki - Military Robot