Cyber Innovation Series 2022/23: ROS-PCon

Posted on: 21/02/2023

ROS-PCon is a solution that helps to secure the compromise of robotic systems. Its expert team have been shortlisted to attend this year’s CyberASAP Demo Day taking place on 22 February.

One of 15 finalists that have been selected to demonstrate their innovation at this year’s CyberASAP, ROS-PCon will be presenting their pitch and demonstrating their Proof of Concept.

Register here.

About ROS-PCon

Robotics have been used in industries such as car manufacturing and aerospace for many years, allowing for automation of these supply chains. Now, the robotics space is moving towards autonomy and the use of robotics in so-called ‘smart factories’, but with this comes an increased risk to security.

Despite the huge benefits robotics brings to many businesses, there’s also a constant risk of attacks on the industrial robotic operations. Industrial robots are widely integrated within the network ecosystem for remote interaction, leaving robots compromised via cyber-physical attacks through system vulnerabilities, misconfigurations and insider attacks.

Whilst there are products that focus on the security hardening of the robotic system, the industry is yet to deliver a real-time anomaly detection and prevention system dedicated to commercial robots.

Robotic security comes in two forms. The first line of defence is front-end prevention, such as the security hardening. It helps, but it isn’t a reliable solution on its own as hackers will always manage to find a way in. Existing solutions are built into the system, scanning for vulnerability and attempting to prevent front line security breach, such as system penetration.

But what happens when this fails or controllers are compromised undetected, meaning hackers can take control and launch stealthily on robotic operations? That’s where ROS-PCon comes in. Standing at the second line of defence, it analyses verified critical problems such as:

  • Changing of robot operation (hijack attack)
  • Robotic operation behavioural anomalies (rogue robot)
  • Machinery health and safety (robot motor/joint defects)
  • Risk for robotic operators, other systems and operation environment.

ROS-PCon learns the robotic movement through the robot execution feedback based on deep learning technology while the robot is performing its role in a controlled, best-case environment. It can then highlight anomalies when it spots something that deviates from the control, which would be otherwise invisible to the human eye.

The system helps expose any stealthy hacking activity, but can also serve health and safety purposes too. Anomalies may also be caused by technical malfunctions or failures, which ROS-PCon can detect before these break down or cause potential harm to workers.

Meet the ROS-PCon Team

As specialists of computing and communication engineering, as well as AI and robotics, their expertise is directly aligned with this innovation. The team is made up of experts from the University of West London including:

  • Professor Jonathan Loo – Professor in Computing and Communication Engineering, Project Lead and Technical Innovator of ROS-PCon
  • Professor Wei Jie – Professor in Computing and Co-Project Lead of ROS-PCon

The funding from CyberASAP has helped the team to build the system, taking the concept into reality. The team have verified marketing needs by interviewing factories and operators. They have also gathered feedback from National Nuclear Lab (NNL), the lab which creates robotic operations to clear nuclear waste using robotic arms.

Now they hope to find an industrial partner with whom to integrate their system and run a pilot. With no direct competitors, the team are aiming to be the first to bring complementary technology to existing front-line security systems.

Meet them at our Demo Day

Join us on Wednesday 22 February 2023 and be among the first to preview the team’s innovation, alongside a whole host of exciting cyber products and services from leading UK academic teams. Hear their pitches and learn more about each project in this unique showcase of ready-to-commercialise cyber innovations. Register here.

About CyberASAP

CyberASAP (Cyber Security Academic Startup Accelerator Programme) is the only pre-seed accelerator programme in the cyber ecosystem which provides expertise, knowledge and support to convert academic research into commercial products and services.

CyberASAP is funded by the UK Government Department for Science, Innovation & Technology (DSIT) and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK and Innovate UK KTN.

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