Robots are becoming increasingly autonomous. Yet, there are no commonly accepted terms and measures of how “autonomous” a robot is. An ad hoc working group has been formed to address these deficiencies, focusing on the unmanned vehicles domain. This group is defining terminology relevant to unmanned systems and is devising metrics for autonomy levels of these systems. Autonomy definitions and measures must encompass many dimensions and serve many audiences. An Army general making decisions about deployment of unmanned scout vehicles may want to only know a value on a scale from 1 to 10, whereas test engineers need to know specifics about the types of environments and missions that the vehicles are expected to deal with. Any system will have to communicate with humans, hence this is an important dimension in evaluating autonomy. The autonomy levels for unmanned systems (ALFUS) group is therefore developing metrics based on three principal dimensions: task complexity, environmental difficulty, and human interaction. This paper reports on the current state of the ALFUS metric for evaluating robots.

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