The Autonomy Levels for Unmanned Systems (ALFUS) workshop series was convened to address the
autonomous nature of unmanned, robotic systems, or unmanned systems (UMS). Practitioners have
different perceptions or different expectations for these systems. The requirements on human interactions,
the types of tasks, the teaming of the UMSs and the humans, and the operating environment are just a few
of the issues that need to be clarified. Also needed is a set of definitions and a model with which the
autonomous capability of the UMS can be described. This paper reports the current results and status of the
ALFUS framework, which practitioners can apply to analyze the autonomy requirements and to evaluate
the performance of their robotic programs.
The initial construct of the framework for the Autonomy Levels of Unmanned Systems (ALFUS) was presented in the 2004 SPIE Defense and Security Symposium. This paper describes the continuing development effort and further accomplishments made by the Ad Hoc working group. We focus on two elements of the ALFUS product set, namely, the detailed model that is being implemented as a spreadsheet-based tool and the summary model. We also discuss identified challenges.
The viability of Unmanned Systems as tools is increasingly recognized in many domains. As technology advances, the autonomy on board these systems also advances. In order to evaluate the systems in terms of their levels of autonomy, it is critical to have a set of standard definitions that support a set of metrics. As autonomy cannot be evaluated quantitatively without sound and thorough technical basis, the development of autonomy levels for unmanned systems must take into account many factors such as task complexity, human interaction, and environmental difficulty. An <i>ad hoc</i> working group assembled by government practitioners has been formed to address these issues. The ultimate objectives for the working group are: (1) To determine the requirements for metrics for autonomy levels of unmanned systems. (2) To devise methods for establishing metrics of autonomy for unmanned systems. (3) To develop a set of widely recognized standard definitions for the levels of autonomy for unmanned systems. This paper describes the interim results that the group has accomplished through the first four workshops that the group held. We report on the initial findings of the workshops toward developing a generic framework for the Autonomy Levels for Unmanned Systems (ALFUS).