Robotic and autonomous systems (RAS) upend the traditional relationship between the military and the private sector. While cooperation remains necessary between these stakeholders, the forms it takes must be adapted to fit the RAS development process.
This paper explores stakeholder relations at various stages of the non-linear RAS life cycle: development, integration, and use. In this framework, development and integration and use are all interconnected, as repeated rounds of testing are used to refine the initial concept in order to produce improved versions. This requires the developer and end user to work together and form consistent feedback loops. Further challenges include the fact that the private sector tends to drive RAS innovation rather than the military, that the life cycle is often fast-paced, and that ethical and legal considerations complicate the demands placed on the system.
In order to address these challenges, the paper offers recommendations for how to manage the RAS life cycle and balance the needs of different stakeholders. These include calling for close communication between stakeholders from the outset of the process, clear delineation of the tasks and duties of each stakeholder, effective testing of RAS in appropriate environments as well as relevant training, integration of new stakeholders internally and externally, and oversight of technological as well as legal and ethical aspects of RAS deployment by end users. These and other suggestions offer developers a path to navigate the new types of cooperative relations that are needed to effectively manage these novel and complex systems.