Ethical mission definition and execution for maritime robotic vehicles: a practical approach
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Many types of robotic vehicles are increasingly utilized in both civilian and military maritime missions. Some amount of human supervision is typically present in such operations, thereby ensuring appropriate accountability in case of mission accidents or errors. However, there is growing interest in augmenting the degree of independence of such vehicles, up to and including full autonomy. A primary challenge in the face of reduced operator oversight is to maintain full human responsibility for ethical robot behavior. Informed by decades of direct involvement in both naval operations and unmanned systems research, this work proposes a new mathematical formalism that maintains human accountability at every level of robot mission planning and execution. This formalism is based on extending a fully general model for digital computation, known as a Turing machine. This extension, called a Mission Execution Automaton (MEA), allows communication with one or more “external agents” that interact with the physical world and respond to queries/commands from the MEA while observing human-defined ethical constraints. An important MEA feature is that it is language independent and results in mission definitions equally well suited to human or robot execution (or any arbitrary combination). Formal description logics are used to enforce mission structure and semantics, provide operator assurance of correct mission definition, and ensure suitability of a mission definition for execution by a specific vehicle, all prior to mission parsing and execution. Computer simulation examples show the value of such a Mission Execution Ontology (MEO). The flexibility of the MEA formalism is illustrated by application to a prototypical multiphase area search and sample mission. This paper presents an entirely new approach to achieving a practical and fully testable means for ethical mission definition and execution. This work demonstrates that ensuring ethical behavior during mission execution is achievable with current technologies and without requiring artificial intelligence abstractions for high-level mission definition or control.
RightsThis publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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Brutzman, Don (2017-04-12);Many types of robotic vehicles are increasingly utilized in both civilian and military maritime missions. Some amount of human supervision is typically present in such operations, thereby ensuring appropriate accountability ...
Brutzman, Don; Blais, Curtis L.; Davis, Duane T.; McGhee, Robert B. (IEEE, 2018-04);Experts and practitioners have worked long and hard toward achieving functionally capable robots. While numerous areas of progress have been achieved, ethical control of unmanned systems meeting legal requirements has been ...
Brutzman, Donald P.; Blais, Curtis L.; Wu, Hsin-Fu (Monterey, California. Naval Postgraduate School, 2020-08); NPS-USW-2020-001This research in Ethical Control of Unmanned Systems applies precepts of Network Optional Warfare (NOW) to develop a three-step Mission Execution Ontology (MEO) methodology for validating, simulating, and implementing ...