Franchetti Receives Funding To Develop Safer Software Technologies


February 28, 2013

Associate Research Professor 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 attacks.

"This is an extremely challenging project as we work to develop secure robotic systems that are resilient to cyber attacks," Franchetti said.

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 determine if they are under attack and to help them survive and continue operating. The multidisciplinary group includes University Professor of ECE José M.F. Moura; 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 ECE Department; 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 annualy cost billions of dollars in lost revenue and 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 ECE Department.

Franchetti reports that the research will also 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.

Chriss Swaney