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Towards a Framework for Certification of Reliable Autonomous Systems

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The capability and spread of such systems have reached the point where they are beginning to touch much of everyday life. However, regulators grapple with how to deal with autonomous systems, for example how could we certify an Unmanned Aerial System for autonomous use in civilian airspace? We here analyse what is needed in order to provide verified reliable behaviour of an autonomous system, analyse what can be done as the state-of-the-art in automated verification, and propose a roadmap towards developing regulatory guidelines, including articulating challenges to researchers, to engineers, and to regulators. Case studies in seven distinct domains illustrate the article. Keywords: autonomous systems; certification; verification; Artificial Intelligence 1 Introduction Since the dawn of human history, humans have designed, implemented and adopted tools to make it easier to perform tasks, often improving efficiency, safety, or security.


A Stable Nuclear Future? The Impact of Autonomous Systems and Artificial Intelligence

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The potential for advances in information-age technologies to undermine nuclear deterrence and influence the potential for nuclear escalation represents a critical question for international politics. One challenge is that uncertainty about the trajectory of technologies such as autonomous systems and artificial intelligence (AI) makes assessments difficult. This paper evaluates the relative impact of autonomous systems and artificial intelligence in three areas: nuclear command and control, nuclear delivery platforms and vehicles, and conventional applications of autonomous systems with consequences for nuclear stability. We argue that countries may be more likely to use risky forms of autonomy when they fear that their second-strike capabilities will be undermined. Additionally, the potential deployment of uninhabited, autonomous nuclear delivery platforms and vehicles could raise the prospect for accidents and miscalculation. Conventional military applications of autonomous systems could simultaneously influence nuclear force postures and first-strike stability in previously unanticipated ways. In particular, the need to fight at machine speed and the cognitive risk introduced by automation bias could increase the risk of unintended escalation. Finally, used properly, there should be many applications of more autonomous systems in nuclear operations that can increase reliability, reduce the risk of accidents, and buy more time for decision-makers in a crisis.


Autonomous Target Search with Multiple Coordinated UAVs

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Search and tracking is the problem of locating a moving target and following it to its destination. In this work, we consider a scenario in which the target moves across a large geographical area by following a road network and the search is performed by a team of unmanned aerial vehicles (UA Vs). We formulate search and tracking as a combinatorial optimization problem and prove that the objective function is submodular. We exploit this property to devise a greedy algorithm. Although this algorithm does not offer strong theoretical guarantees because of the presence of temporal constraints that limit the feasibility of the solutions, it presents remarkably good performance, especially when several UA Vs are available for the mission. As the greedy algorithm suffers when resources are scarce, we investigate two alternative optimization techniques: Constraint Programming (CP) and AI planning. Both approaches struggle to cope with large problems, and so we strengthen them by leveraging the greedy algorithm. We use the greedy solution to warm start the CP model and to devise a domain-dependent heuristic for planning. Our extensive experimental evaluation studies the scalability of the different techniques and identifies the conditions under which one approach becomes preferable to the others.



Decentralized dynamic task allocation for UAVs with limited communication range

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

We present the Limited-range Online Routing Problem (LORP), which involves a team of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) with limited communication range that must autonomously coordinate to service task requests. We first show a general approach to cast this dynamic problem as a sequence of decentralized task allocation problems. Then we present two solutions both based on modeling the allocation task as a Markov Random Field to subsequently assess decisions by means of the decentralized Max-Sum algorithm. Our first solution assumes independence between requests, whereas our second solution also considers the UAVs' workloads. A thorough empirical evaluation shows that our workloadbased solution consistently outperforms current state-of-the-art methods in a wide range of scenarios, lowering the average service time up to 16%. In the bestcase scenario there is no gap between our decentralized solution and centralized techniques. In the worst-case scenario we manage to reduce by 25% the gap between current decentralized and centralized techniques. Thus, our solution becomes the method of choice for our problem. Keywords: task allocation, unmanned aerial vehicles, max-sum, decentralized 1. Introduction Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are an attractive technology for largearea surveillance [1]. Today, there are readily available UAVs that are reasonably cheap, have many sensing abilities, exhibit a long endurance and can communicate using radios. UAVs have traditionally been controlled either remotely or by following externally-designed flight plans. Requiring human operators for each UAV implies a large, specialized and expensive human workforce. Likewise, letting UAVs follow externally prepared plans introduces a single point of failure (the planner) and requires UAVs with expensive (satellite) radios to maintain continuous communication with a central station. These constraints are acceptable in some application domains, other applications require more flexible techniques. For instance, consider a force of park rangers tasked with the surveillance of a large natural park. Upon reception of an emergency notification, the rangers must assess the situation as quickly as possible.