Security for multirobot systems

Researchers including MIT professor Daniela Rus (left) and research scientist Stephanie Gil (right) have developed a technique for preventing malicious hackers from commandeering robot teams’ communication networks. To verify the theoretical predictions, the researchers implemented their system using a battery of distributed Wi-Fi transmitters and an autonomous helicopter.
Researchers including MIT professor Daniela Rus (left) and research scientist Stephanie Gil (right) have developed a technique for preventing malicious hackers from commandeering robot teams’ communication networks. To verify the theoretical predictions, the researchers implemented their system using a battery of distributed Wi-Fi transmitters and an autonomous helicopter.
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Distributed planning, communication, and control algorithms for autonomous robots make up a major area of research in computer science. But in the literature on multirobot systems, security has gotten relatively short shrift.

In the latest issue of the journal Autonomous Robots, researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and their colleagues present a new technique for preventing malicious hackers from commandeering robot teams’ communication networks. The technique could provide an added layer of security in systems that encrypt communications, or an alternative in circumstances in which encryption is impractical.

“The robotics community has focused on making multirobot systems autonomous and increasingly more capable by developing the science of autonomy. In some sense we have not done enough about systems-level issues like cybersecurity and privacy,” says Daniela Rus, an Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and senior author on the new paper.

“But when we deploy multirobot systems in real applications, we expose them to all the issues that current computer systems are exposed to,” she adds. “If you take over a computer system, you can make it release private data — and you can do a lot of other bad things. A cybersecurity attack on a robot has all the perils of attacks on computer systems, plus the robot could be controlled to take potentially damaging action in the physical world. So in some sense there is even more urgency that we think about this problem.”

Read the full story here: https://www.csail.mit.edu/security_for_multirobot_systems