Blockchain Can Secure Autonomous Systems

A future  robotic system integrated into a public infrastructure system, connected self-driving cars, for example, could cause lethal problems for the entire system if even one component were to be hacked. This would lead to a ripple  effect throughout the system, providing an opportunity for ransomware attacks.

Now researchers have developed a method that uses blockchain technology to improve the capacity for secure communication for robots. 

The use of blockchain technology as a communication tool for a team of robots could provide security and safeguard against deception, according to a study by researchers at MIT and Polytechnic University of Madrid. 
The research may also have applications in cities where multi-robot systems of self-driving cars are delivering goods and moving people across town.

Blockchain technology, with transaction-based communications could be applied to guarantee that teams of robots accomplish their objectives even in a situation where some of the robots are hacked.

A blockchain provides a tamper-proof record of all transactions, in this case, the messages issued by robot team leaders, so follower robots can ultimately detect discrepancies in the information trail. For example, a team of autonomous drones equipped with advanced sensing equipment is on a mission searching for smoke. Once they spot a wildfire, the leader robots relay directions to a swarm of firefighting drones that speed to the site of the blaze. But if one or more leader robots were hacked by a malicious agent and began sending incorrect directions then blockchain offers a tamper-proof record of all transactions, in this case, the messages issued by robot team leaders, so follower robots can eventually identify inconsistencies in the information trail.

While a blockchain is typically used as a secure ledger for crypto-currencies, in its essence it is a list of data structures, known as blocks, that are connected in a chain. 

In this simulation-based study, the information stored in each block is a set of directions from a leader robot to followers. If a malicious robot attempts to alter the content of a block, it will change the block hash, so the altered block will no longer be connected to the chain. The altered directions could be easily ignored by follower robots.

As the blockchain also provides a permanent record of all transactions. Since all followers can eventually see all the directions issued by leader robots, they can see if they have been misled.

MIT:     IMDEA:     I-HLS:     Business Telegraph:     Innovation News Network:      CarBuzz:    DroneDJ:

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