Summary of NATO’s Autonomy Implementation Plan

  • 13 Oct. 2022 -
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  • Last updated: 13 Oct. 2022 16:30


  1. Autonomous Systems are transforming our societies, and we see tangible evidence today of their impact on security and defence. These technologies offer clear opportunities, including bolstering deterrence and defence, preserving NATO’s technological edge, increasing resilience and adapting to the security impacts of climate change.
  2. There are also risks. Strategic competitors and potential adversaries are investing heavily in these technologies to achieve asymmetric advantages, including on the battlefield.
  3. Our use of autonomous systems must be founded on our norms, values, and commitment to international law.

Desired outcomes

  1. NATO and Allies will responsibly harness autonomous systems in support of our core tasks, driving toward the following outcomes:
    • Allies have developed a shared understanding and characterisation of autonomous systems.
    • Allies are able to collectively deploy interoperable ‘systems of systems’ and effectively manage different levels of autonomy.
    • Allies and NATO have adopted relevant frameworks, policies, standards and doctrine for the adoption and integration of autonomous systems over the longer term.
    • Allied armed forces and the NATO Command Structure regularly conduct exercises and operational experimentation with cutting-edge autonomy-enabled solutions to drive the deployment of these systems/capabilities at scale in our operations.
    • Allies and NATO have implemented, and continue to evolve, the necessary security measures to better prevent and defend against novel threats related to autonomous systems.
    • Allies and NATO bodies have clear pathways to implement AI-enabled autonomous systems in accordance with NATO’s Principles of Responsible Use (PRUs) of AI in defence and with international law.
    • Public audiences trust the Alliance to use autonomous systems responsibly in defence and security.
  2. NATO will provide the transatlantic forum for Allied consultation and exchanges of best practice in the field of autonomous systems.

Responsible development and use of autonomy

  1. PRUs provide a` common baseline to assure trustworthiness and interoperability. Data and AI are key enablers of autonomy. NATO’s six PRUs for AI in Defence - Lawfulness, Responsibility and Accountability, Explainability and Traceability, Reliability, Governability and Bias Mitigation—apply to AI-enabled autonomous systems.
  2. With respect to Emerging Technologies in the Area of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), NATO will also align with the guiding principles endorsed by the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (CCW) in 2019. These guiding principles affirm that international humanitarian law continues to apply fully to all weapons systems, including the potential development and use of LAWS, and that the CCW offers an appropriate framework for dealing with the issue of emerging technologies in the area of LAWS.
  3. In addition and complementary to guidelines agreed or to be agreed in the CCW, NATO will operationalise its PRUs—including through NATO’s Data and AI Review Board (DARB)—as they apply to AI-enabled autonomous systems.
  4. Trust is a key enabler to harness the potential of autonomous systems. Allies and NATO will seek to build appropriate levels of trust in the performance and benefits of autonomous systems by establishing trust in technology, operational trust and public trust.

Green autonomy

  1. The Alliance’s efforts in developing and adopting autonomous systems will be strengthened by aligning with NATO’s updated Climate Change and Security Action Plan (CCSAP).

Protecting our edge

  1. In the current era of strategic competition, the Alliance’s ability to maintain an edge in autonomous technologies, bolster deterrence and defence, and increase resilience also requires Allies and NATO to protect against interference and deception in our systems, protect the Alliance’s armed forces, populations and territory from harmful use of autonomous systems, and protect against acquisition of our technologies by potential adversaries and strategic competitors.
  2. Allies and NATO recognise that competitors and potential adversaries are investing in and demonstrating autonomous systems with the goal of surpassing Allied capability development.
  3. Strategic competitors and potential adversaries may also leverage disinformation opportunities within Allied societies by creating public distrust of the military use of autonomous systems. Allies will seek to prevent and counter any such efforts within the context of its responsible approach to development and use of autonomy.