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Secure Telerobotics

In this research project, we are investigating potential cyber security threats against teleoperated robotic systems, and proposing mechanisms to mitigate them.

The problem

In telerobotic applications such as bomb disposal, search and rescue and robotic surgery, robots primarily serve as extensions of people. Human operators, often geographically distant, interact with robots through a communication channel. It is expected that the next-generation teleoperated systems will combine the existing, publicly available networks with temporary ad-hoc wireless and satellite networks, to send audio, video and other sensory information to one or more remote operators. Surprisingly, the security vulnerabilities of these cyber-physical systems, and methods to prevent them or mitigate the effects of malicious hacking, have received little attention in the research community.


Secure Telerobotics

Our solution

This project is developing tools to prevent security threats in telerobotics, by monitoring and detecting malicious activities and correcting for them. In order to develop tools to prevent and mitigate security threats against telerobotic systems, this project adapts cyber security methods and extends them to cyber-physical systems. Knowledge about physical constraints and interactions between the cyber and physical components of the system are leveraged for security. A monitoring system is being developed which collects operator commands and robot feedback information to perform real-time verification of the operator. Timely and reliable detection of any discrepancy between real and spoofed operator movements is expected to enable quick detection of adversarial activities. 

Impact

This project brings together research in robotics, computer and network security, control theory and machine learning, in order to gain better understanding of complex teleoperated robotic systems, and to engineer telerobotic systems that provide strict safety, security and privacy guarantees. The results are relevant and applicable to a wide range of applications, including telerobotic surgery, search and rescue missions, military operations, underwater infrastructure and repair, cleanup and repair in hazardous environments, mining, as well as manipulation/inspections of objects in low earth orbit.

Acknowledgments

National Science Foundation