Even the Navy Has Market Risk (they just call it something else)
2012/11/08 Leave a comment
My long awaited article in Proceedings just came out! You might not have been waiting for it, but I have! I started the article over a year ago. It was a slog. I can’t quite believe that I’m now signing up to publish an academic paper on the capital structure of robotics companies.
In summary, the U.S. Navy is making a terrible mistake in it unmanned maritime vehicle policy. The Navy is basically designing all their programs for robots that swim in the water to fail. The technology exists today to make really cool, useful maritime robots. However, the technology does not exist today to build the Navy’s dream robots. (Especially since the Navy’s secret dream is to need more manned ships of the type we have today.) Essentially, the Navy is pulling the equivalent of refusing to look at Roomba because it is not Rosie.
I’ll try and expand upon some of the key ideas from the paper over the next couple of weeks. Readers of this blog will be familiar with the core ideas which have been translated from business to military jargon. The Navy has to figure out what it needs its robots to do and the ecosystem around them at the same time that it is working on building the systems. That’s what we in business call market risk! The Navy needs to take some steps to reduce that risk. Although the defense acquisition process stacks the deck against the Navy and it has some truly heroic individuals working on the problem, as an institution, the Navy really isn’t putting forth an adequate showing considering we’re talking about the institution’s future.
As a patriotic citizen of the United States–and as someone who understands that the U.S. Navy as much any institution on the planet has guaranteed an era of global trade, peace, and freedom–I really want our Navy to have a bright future. Everyone who studies the naval budget–horses and bayonets snark aside–knows that the Navy isn’t on a sustainable path. Robotics offer the Navy a future even brighter than the past. To have this future, the Navy will have to learn how to manage and implement this technology. It won’t be easy, but there are solid principles for doing this.
Also, readers, I want to thank you. Thank you for being patient with a terrible layout, a casual tone, mixed quantitative/qualitative arguments, poor citation, and irregular tables. I do want you to know that you are reading a blog whose underlying ideas are good enough to go through peer review. I, for one, commend you for that. I hope that the ideas have a practical impact in advancing robotics that improve the world. Now, stop indulging my self-congratulation and get back to putting more robots into the world!