The Naval Postgraduate School & The U.S. Department of Homeland Security

The Future of Unmanned Vehicles: The DOD Roadmap

In an attempt to describe how unmanned systems are vital to the defense of the nation, the Department of Defense (DOD) has released a report on the importance of developing enhanced unmanned systems. This report, called the "Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap", maps fiscal years 2013-2038 and discusses the unique challenges faced by the limited budget, the rapidly changing national security environment, and the requirement for expansion in the development of these systems.

Although unmanned aerial vehicles tend to grab media focus, vehicles underwater and on the ground are making huge strides in potential for national defense use, and their uses are outlined in the report.

The Roadmap is also designed to help forward the continued development of these unmanned systems despite the budget crunch faced by the DOD. It also expects a rapid integration of unmanned vehicles over the next 25 years, and this report accounts for the growth and budget requirements to meet that goal.

Alongside a map of budget requirements in the future, the Roadmap contains plans for recording the development of these technologies, including studies on "the levels of effectiveness, efficiency, affordability, commonality, interoperability, integration and other key parameters needed to meet future operational requirements.”

Included in the Roadmap are inventories of current unmanned vehicles. The report also displays potential technologies that have yet to receive funding, including aerial, maritime, and ground-based systems.

Read the DOD's press release on the report here.