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Wittman, Ruppersberger Introduce Legislation to Accelerate Autonomous Systems Across U.S. Military

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, May 9, 2023, Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02) introduced the bipartisan H.R.3168 – Autonomous Systems Adoption & Policy Act (ASAP Act), which will establish a Joint Autonomy Office (JAO) at the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO) at the Department of Defense (DoD) to accelerate development and delivery of autonomy technology and programs for United States military operations. 

“Autonomy technology is critical to our national security and for the advancement of our military capabilities,” said Congressman Wittman. “The Autonomous Systems Adoption & Policy Act will provide the DoD with the necessary resources and tools to coordinate autonomy adoption efforts across the Department and accelerate delivery of trusted autonomous technologies to the warfighter in future U.S. military operations. I’m proud to introduce this legislation in collaboration with Rep. Ruppersberger, and I look forward to our continued work to ensure our servicemembers have the equipment and technology they need to carry out their missions safely and successfully in a new age of strategic competition.” 

“The future of warfighting lies with uncrewed systems. If we do not act now to responsibly fast-track resources, standards and the coordination of expertise, we will fall behind our global adversaries in military modernization,” said Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, a Defense Appropriator who is co-chair of the House Army Caucus. “I’m proud to join Rep. Wittman in this bipartisan effort to establish the JAO to advance the Department of Defense’s use of autonomous systems as we navigate both today and tomorrow's strategic environment.” 

H.R.3168 The Autonomous Systems Adoption & Policy Act:

The JAO and its leadership will provide the enterprise testing infrastructure across services’ autonomy programs, lead coordination with the DoD’s existing disparate autonomy efforts, drive requirement and funding needs, and establish a single point of accountability for incorporating autonomy technology across the U.S. military with the resources required to be effective. This legislation is line with the recent Special Competitive Studies Project report, Offset-X, calling for an enterprise test platform for DoD AI-enable systems to increase effectiveness as software-defined systems. 

The JAO would provide:

●      An enterprise platform for all-domain autonomy testing, and resulting curated databases; this platform is based on commercial best practices and is provided to existing service and joint autonomy programs.

●      A DoD-wide framework for the classification of autonomous capabilities to develop a common understanding of autonomous capabilities and operational requirements to better plan for, resource, and integrate appropriate autonomy-enabling technologies into current and future systems.

●      Plans and procedures to standardize the planning, resourcing, and integration efforts with respect to autonomous capabilities for current and future systems across the DoD.

●      DoD program managers and industry experts, both traditional and non-traditional, with an understanding of best practices for autonomy program design and execution to advance the state of all domain autonomy.