Theme, Scope, and Panel Descriptions


Modernizing the Enterprise for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics


“If there is one single thing I think that will change fundamentally the way we look and the way we fight is the possibility
of deploying robotic combat vehicles in the future, either completely autonomous or semi-autonomous as wingmen”
GEN John M. Murray, Commanding General, Army Futures Command

The increased pace of technological change is affecting society in ways the world could not have predicted. New products and capabilities have permeated society: that which just a few years ago was considered science-fiction is now the new normal. Among these emergent technologies are Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, and a wealth of Autonomous capabilities, each of which has captured the attention of the world. Technology industry leaders are investing billions in AI startups and countries around the world are establishing accelerator funds with hopes of improving the human condition of their citizenry. In its March 2019 Roundup of Machine Learning Forecasts and Market Estimates for 2019, Forbes reported:
  • AI and machine learning have the potential to create an additional $2.6T in value by 2020 in Marketing and Sales, and up to $2T in manufacturing and supply chain planning (McKinsey Global Inst.).

  • Spending on cognitive and AI systems will reach $77.6B in 2022, more than three times the $24.0B forecast for 2018 (International Data Corporation).

  • China’s AI dominance reaches across multiple industries compared to the majority of nations only concentrating on a few. 85% of Chinese companies are active players in the field of AI, while amongst other countries, only an average 50% even qualify as players (Boston Consulting Group).

While universities, industry, and innovators are taking advantage of these new technologies, the Department of Defense (DOD) is still working to find its footing. Lacking the speed of funding and authorities of civilian organizations, the DOD has focused on small initiatives to improve innovation and technology. Department “start-ups” like DIUx (now just DIU) have recognized the benefit of leveraging “garage innovators” and are paving a way for others to follow.

The Army’s efforts led to its largest institutional transformation in recent history: U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC). By aligning key modernization elements and organizations, adopting a focused Cross-Functional Team (CFT) capability development model, and establishing its global footprint closer to hubs of technological innovation, AFC has established itself as a leader within the Future Force Modernization Enterprise (FFME)…but this is only the first step. The U.S. Army must maintain momentum and do more, particularly within AI, autonomy, and robotics.

In December 2018, the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) published the Army’s newest Operating Concept, The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028. It describes how, “Army forces, as an element of the Joint Force, conduct Multi-Domain Operations to prevail in competition; when necessary, Army forces penetrate and dis-integrate enemy anti-access and area denial systems and exploit the resultant freedom of maneuver to achieve strategic objectives (win) and force a return to competition on favorable terms.

”The learning and experimentation which led to the 2018 Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) concept and continues as the concept is refined, recognizes the transformative potential of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies to change the character of war. During Secretary of Defense Esper’s confirmation hearing in July 2019, he proclaimed artificial intelligence (AI) a, “game changer [that] will likely change the character of warfare…and whoever masters it first will dominate on the battlefield for many, many, many years.” The DOD recognizes the importance of emergent technologies like AI and is making progress to establish them as a top priority. The DOD 2020 budget request includes $927 million for AI development and machines learning, and another $208 million for the Joint AI Center. However, the questions remain…is it enough? How much is enough? What else must the U.S. Army do to strategically posture its enterprise for AI adoption? These are just some of the questions the U.S. Army will have to answer as it wades into a new era of AI-enabled warfare.



The 2019 AUSA Army Autonomy & AI Symposium will build upon last year’s successful inaugural event by exploring the complexity of the challenges we face in these areas and offer a deeper understanding in pursuit of real, enterprise-wide solutions to operationalizing artificial intelligence, robotics, and autonomous capabilities. It will serve as an open forum for military, industry, academia, practitioners, and innovators to interact and discuss emerging technologies, modernization issues and implications across the defense enterprise, and showcase innovative concepts and capabilities which could enable a strategic advantage against U.S. adversaries.

The panel topic areas for discussion are:

  • Before the First Shot: AI and Autonomous Capabilities in Support of Competition
    U.S. adversaries are investing billions in AI, further widening the technology gap in their favor and diluting the operational deterrence the U.S. is committed to preserve. What are U.S. adversaries doing with this technology and how can the U.S. leverage the promise of AI and posture itself to compete and regain its strategic advantage?

  • Cloud Computing and Army Strategy
    How the U.S. Army must fight, as an element of the Joint Force, will require communication and computation while on the move in a highly lethal, hyperactive operating environment. What cloud computing technologies, architectures, and infrastructure should the U.S. Army pursue to enable intelligence and targeting capabilities at the tactical edge that are normally reserved for higher echelons?

  • Customizing AI and Autonomous Solutions
    Modern processing has evolved beyond the single, multi-functional processor to multiple processors for each function. Software and Hardware are being built in parallel to one another requiring an ability to program and engineer custom soultions. How does the U.S. Army achieve this capability when the closer it gets to the tactical edge, the more custom it must eventually be? How does the U.S. Army develop solutions to compute, transport, and store data within range of adversary systems? • “Data is the new oil – Data, Sensors, and the DoD’s Data Curation Challenge” – There's massive amounts of data available to the military, but it tends to be stored all over the place, and rarely in a format that is easily transferrable into an algorithm. How can the U.S. Army curate, label, and clean data for ingestion and processing? How does the Army integrate ubiquitous sensor and synthetic data into a compatible format? Moreover, how does the Army recruit and train the data scientists necessary to make use of it?

  • A Venture Capital approach to AI Acquisition
    As we evolve from an industrial-age to an information-age, the U.S. Army is turning to industry and non-traditional start-ups for innovative solutions to difficult problems. However, legacy processes and policies overburden any would-be partners. What are the challenges facing prospective partners wanting to do business with the U.S. Army? What lessons can we learn from start-ups and industry to improve the collaboration space for defense innovation?

  • Winning the War for AI/Auto Talent
    Talent development remains one of the U.S.’s greatest competitive advantages. In the coming years, competition for highly skilled talent will increase, placing an incredible burden on the U.S. Army to identify and recruit highly sought after human capital. What expertise and capabilities are needed at each U.S. Army echelon? What tasks do we outsource to other areas of the defense establishment? And, how will the U.S. Army attract and retain the AI talent it needs?

  • Multi-Domain Command and Control
    Convergence is the rapid and continuous integration of capabilities in all domains employing Cross-Domain Synergy, redundant kill-chains, and Mission Command. MDC2 is a necessary component to realize the level of integration across the joint force unlike anything that is possible today – linking any sensor, to any shooter, through any command and control (C2) node, in near real-time and with the appropriate authorities. The speed and velocity of decision making and capability integration will only be made possible through the use of AI and autonomous capabilities.

Back to Top