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LE/FT Lab research mentioned in The Atlantic

winstead's picture
Submitted by winstead on Wed, 09/10/2014 - 14:08

One of our research projects in vehicular communication has been noticed by The Atlantic magazine. LE/FT Lab researchers have teamed with Prof. Ryan Gerdes to study security and reliability in automated vehicles.  The project also involves Prof. Rajnikant Sharma of the USU RISC Lab (they do research on coordinated control systems),  Prof. Ming Li of the USU WiSeR Lab (in the Computer Science Department), and Prof. Kevin Heaslip (now with the Transportation Infrastructure group at Virginia Tech).

Here's a quote from the article:

Imagine this future scenario: Self-driving cars form an orderly procession down a highway, traveling at precisely the right following distance and speed. All the on-board computers cooperate and all the vehicles travel reach their destinations safely. 

But what if one person jailbreaks her car, and tells her AI driver to go just a little faster than the other cars? As the aggressive car moves up on the other vehicles, their safety mechanisms kick in and they change lanes to get out of the way. It might make the overall efficiency of the transportation lower, but this one person would get ahead. 

This is but one of many scenarios that Ryan Gerdes of Utah State University is exploring with a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to look at the security of the autonomous vehicle future. 


This project builds on some preliminary work done at USU in recent years. For more information, you can check out our publications, such as our recent article at the ACSAC security conference. You can also take a look at the project details in the National Science Foundation's award database, award number 1410000. Here's the project abstract:

The goal of the project is to provide a secure foundation for a transportation system that increasingly relies on the cooperation, connectedness, and automation of vehicles to achieve increases in safety, efficiency, and capacity. The financial losses attributable to congestion in America's transportation infrastructure are more than $1 trillion annually and the parallel loss of life in vehicle collisions is 40,000 deaths per year. Cooperative, autonomous vehicles are expected to increase the throughput of vehicles; reduce emissions, fuel consumption, and injuries; extend personal transportation to the disabled and elderly; and lessen the number and size of roadways.

This project leverages a multi-disciplinary group, composed of security, transportation, control, and communication researchers to secure an automated transportation system that is available to all vehicles, trusted or not, that may experience impaired connectivity. The team is (1) developing a secure and resilient control regime for automated vehicles, (2) building a framework based on the physical layer to enable vehicles to establish peer trust, and (3) providing a trusted infrastructure the ability to securely gather and disseminate traffic and environmental data to vehicles for optimal route planning and accident avoidance using Bayesian inference on Markov models.

The proposed research will advance the knowledge in many fields: secure and resilient control, VANET security, trust establishment and management, physical-layer security, decision theory, and secure protocol design. Results from this research will be disseminated in peer-reviewed journals and conferences. The research will provide opportunities for research training for underrepresented students at undergraduate and graduate levels.


Technical Level: