I am honored to introduce this fourth book, once again led by Professor Randall Nichols and his esteemed colleagues and subject-matter experts on unmanned vehicles and cybersecurity. This compilation of work is thoughtfully broken down into sections including air and underwater domains in which unmanned vehicles operate as well as a section dedicated to unmanned vehicles as weapons and a section focused on geopolitical and legal advances.
The first section, “Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” walks students through a series dedicated to the constantly evolving information advances on the topic, including a review on the state-of-the-art, serving as an exploration of current and emerging technologies and some fascinating implications it may have on the UAS industry. The entire section introduces some fascinating applications for UAS—both by the commercial sector as well as the federal government.
Section 2 provides a fascinating glimpse into the maritime domain, with an emphasis on Unmanned Underwater Systems, or UUVs. The introduction focusses on navigational solutions for submarines and UUVs, including a discussion on the use of exteroceptive sensors to supplement map references, and when they do not exist, they may use these sensors for simultaneous localization and mapping, or SLAM. All of these methodologies are able to operate underwater without the use of global navigation systems—an area where one could argue that their unmanned air counterparts are overly reliant. The UUV section also goes into some depth (pun intentional) on the subject of underwater basing and military applications. Chapter 6 provides a reflection on the history of underwater vehicles, the advancement of sensors and UUV technology and commercial implications for the UUV market. This section is rounded off by chapter 7, a bit of a “deep dive” into UUV design considerations for naval architecture.
Section 3 kicks off by adding historical context on regulatory development pertaining to technologies and an exploration on the subject of multi-domain traffic management systems. It goes on to introduce the counter UAS problem set and uses Iranian attacks on Saudi Arabian oil fields as a case study to illustrate challenges with cyber defense and vulnerabilities posed to Air Defense Systems, followed by an examination of path planning tactics.
In section 4, one chapter stems from a graduate research project in which the author explored how FAA regulations pertaining to UAS operations are influenced by the Fourth Amendment, as well as privacy laws at multiple levels of government. This section also introduces how UVs may be vulnerable to misinformation and disinformation, and the consequences if unaddressed.
Section 5 is fascinating. Carter’s chapter on Chinese Unmanned Proliferation Along New Silk Road Sea/Land routes offers some important strategic context on the People’s Republic of China. The chapter on crossing the machine-human barrier reviews the risks posed by social media and links its use to acceptance and trust—and then explores how it may be utilized in a nefarious manner. This offers a thought-provoking examination on the broader topic of artificial intelligence and autonomous technology. The final chapter explores the relationship between increased dependencies on the Internet of Things and how its incorporation into maritime systems may be bringing the industry into the future, but not without broadscale risks from a cybersecurity perspective.
Common threads across all of the sections includes an illustration of how technological advances promote the technical readiness level and implications of unmanned vehicles across all three domains, including military and commercial applications. This is underscored by a theme of considering various levels of autonomy and artificial intelligence across the range of systems—including the topics of dependability, trust, vulnerabilities, and human interaction associated with them.
This body of work is derived from open source references and written by esteemed subject matter experts in their field is a compilation of thought provoking and up-to-date materials for consumption by students of all types. Professor Nichols and his colleagues have done it again!
Kurt J. Carraway
UAS Department Head and Executive Director, Applied Aviation Research Center
Kansas State University Polytechnic