The discussion on various autonomous cars, ships, aircraft has generally been focused on the moving platform - by default, or by assumption. It would be helpful to consider the various systems of interest. A very small start has been made by distinguishing UAV and UAS, but we are still at the point where most of the systems of interest do not have names. There are a number of Technical Systems (identified as TSn) and a number of Socio-Technical Systems (identified as STSn). The systems that we need to consider appear to be as follows:
TS1; The platform (UAV, UUV, driverless rickshaw, robot, etc.). These usually have names.
TS2; The platform plus off-platform 'cloud' (robo-cloud).
TS3; Collective of platforms. Not necessarily a 'swarm' - but a group of platforms working together.
TS4; Collective of platforms plus off-platform 'cloud'.
STS1; Any of TS1-4 so long as specified plus an 'Operator' who can be held to account. The 'Operator'
may be a pilot, Master etc. Near-Real Time situation awareness for the off-platform Operator is only
possible with TS2, 4. This system has a name in
the case of UAS (only, I think). It is hard to see how a 'car driver' without
specialist training can be held to account. The current standard of media reporting
has the "driver of a driverless car" being blamed for an accident!
STS2; Any of TS1-4 so long as specified plus Operator, Responsible
Owner, Design Authority. This is the minimum system for proper
accountability. It needs a name. Note that TS1-4 plus Operator,
Responsible Owner has not been included in the list as it is effectively
STS3; Any of TS1-4 so long as specified plus Operator, Responsible
Owner, Design Authority, Legal Authority, Insurer, Provider of financial legitimacy, Provider of employment and training legitimacy. This is the system that provides
the licence to operate. i.e. the 'blunt end' as well as the 'sharp end'
in Dave Woods' terminology.
STS4; Typically, 'Cloud' platform operator, financiers.The system that
manages the flow of money and information rights. If the 'values' in
this system are unethical, then 'value alignment' of TS2, 4 is difficult
to achieve (Milo Minderbinder UAVs anyone?). 'Platform' is often used
as a shorthand name here, just to add confusion.