DARPA Awards $6M Grant to Develop Protective Software for Unmanned Ground Vehicles

Carnegie Mellon University's Franz Franchetti has received a 4.5-year, $6 million grant from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop software for protecting unmanned ground vehicles and high-end cars from cyber attack.

"This is an extremely challenging project as we work to develop secure robotic systems that are resilient to cyber attacks," said Franchetti, an associate research professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The project is part of DARPA's High-Assurance Cyber Military System (HACMS) program launched last year to produce ultra secure systems that are resilient to growing cyber threats.

Franchetti is leading a team of researchers developing verification tools, including virtual high-assurance sensors and automatic software systems, to help computers figure out that they are under attack and to help them survive and continue operating.

The multidisciplinary research team includes Jose M.F. Moura , a University Professor in CMU's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Manuela M. Veloso , the Herbert A. Simon Professor of Computer Science at CMU; Andre Platzer , an assistant professor in computer science at CMU; Soummya Kar, an assistant research professor in CMU's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; David Padua , the Donald Biggar Willett Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Jeremy Johnson , a professor in the Department of Computer Science at Drexel University.

Cyber threats cost billions of dollars in lost revenues yearly and they are emerging as a major threat to the U.S. economy, according to a recent U.S. Commerce Department report. Experts fear a click of a simple computer mouse could ultimately explode a fuel refinery, blind air traffic controllers or jam an important power grid.

"Gauging an appropriate response to any of these cyber threats is daunting, but we have the innovative talent and research expertise to begin developing some long-range solutions," said Ed Schlesinger , the Edward Schramm Memorial Professor of Engineering and head of the top-ranked Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at CMU.

Franchetti reports that the research also will lay the groundwork for problem-solving involving the disruption of GPS service to critical consumer systems like other ground vehicles and high-end cars that feature a variety of computer systems to assist drivers.

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