Hackers are coming for industrial robotics.  Robotics scientists in San Antonio are looking to boost cybersecurity.

SA experts look to protect industrial robots from hackers

In the call center in Renault Robotics In San Antonio, employees are working around the clock to help autonomous electric tractors — which the company developed to preserve the landscape on solar farms — navigate around complex structures.

If one of these bots detects something blocking its path, for example, it sends signals to a call center — Renault’s “mission control,” as chief technology officer Michael Blanton calls it — where employees can search through cameras and lidar screens to assess a scenario. They can then re-task the robot to go around the obstacle and continue its work.

Related: San Antonio’s growing robot scene attracts national attention, invites participation in major US exhibition

In the age of industrial robots, Renu’s intelligent solar farm maintenance machine is among the many autonomous vehicles that will become digitally connected.

What can go wrong?

Blanton said during this week’s meeting of San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Cyber ​​Security Council in port of san antonio. “If someone is able to hack into that, they can do a great deal of damage.”

Read more: The Southwest Research Institute advances robotics technology while seeding the nascent mass in San Antonio

The increasing use of intelligent robots in industrial environments and the resulting growing need for robotics and cybersecurity professionals to collaborate in both areas comes Grow in San Antonio – With the increasing cyber threats. It is a new area of ​​growth for the city’s technology sector.

At Renu Robotics, engineers have worked to secure remote connections more aggressively for their robot and its software. The company said it will constantly assess the potential security challenges that lie ahead for the machines.

Colonel Kevin Mantovani, right, deputy commander of the Air Force Stabilization and Mission Support Center at Joint Base San Antonio, speaks with Renu Robotics Vice President of Marketing Steve Arters during FORCECON 2022: Innovation-Technology-Gaming, an event in May at the Tech Center Port + Arena in Port San Antonio.

Carlos Javier Sanchez / pixelreflexmedia.com, contributor

“That’s the kind of thing we’re going to see more and more of as the years go by,” Blanton said. “We have a lot of delivery bots. You see little bots walking around here and there. Hackers are going to be one of the main things… wanting to jump into these things and try to figure out how they can take control. So the cybersecurity community is going to be very important.”

It’s not simple, because robotics systems are incredibly complex.

“You have the code that does the driving control,” said Victor Murray, head of the Electrophysical Systems Group at Southwest Research Institute, a nonprofit organization in San Antonio. “You have firmware that controls the embedded systems. You have operating systems. You have equipment. You have these pieces that have to communicate together.”

Each of these elements has vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit, Murray said.

“Securing all of those facades is an incredible challenge,” he said.

Historically, robots have been programmed to complete remedial tasks, such as the kind of hard and repetitive work that takes place in warehouses. But the industry is moving towards making robots do more complex tasks using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

For bots and cybersecurity experts, this is exciting – but also worrisome because improvements often allow for additional vulnerabilities.

“In my opinion, in the field of robotics, there is still plenty of time to secure it before we have our ‘come to Jesus’ moment,” Murray said.

It’s an area where San Antonio is gaining strength. The city was recently recognized by the American Alliance of Robotics Groups, a group of non-profit organizations and organizations headquartered in Boston, Pittsburgh and Silicon Valley – the largest centers of robotics in the country. The alliance invited San Antonio-based robotics startups to participate in the show last month at the International Manufacturing Technology Fair in Chicago.

Research engineers David Spielman, left, and Tyler Marr work together to program the FANUC robot for a demonstration project at the Southwest Research Institute.

Research engineers David Spielman, left, and Tyler Marr work together to program the FANUC robot for a demonstration project at the Southwest Research Institute.

Sam Owens, San Antonio Express-News/Staff . photographer

said Stephanie Garcia, a Port San Antonio business development specialist who organizes events for Robotics SATEX, a community of technologists working in autonomous vehicles, drones, and industrial robots. “Let’s talk about how to make San Antonio a delivery place.”

At least 16,447 cybersecurity professionals work in the San Antonio area for the federal government, which is a third of the city’s 48,000-plus IT workers, according to a recent study by Port San Antonio and Tech Bloc, an industry advocacy group. .

Alongside the emerging industrial robotics scene, San Antonio has fostered innovative biotech companies that are now making robots for medical purposes.

During the Cyber ​​Security Council meeting in Port San Antonio, Ryan Saavedra, founder of Alt-Bionics In San Antonio, I swiped a 3D-printed hand for cybersecurity experts to watch.

Saavedra, a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio, founded the medical device company in 2020 and Artificial hands powered by artificial intelligence have been created For people with elbow amputation and congenital disorders.

He told the crowd that his company is going through its second round of financing and plans to sell Hands on for $3,500, it should also enhance cybersecurity. He noted that since people who use Alt-Bionics’ prosthetic hands can take advantage of Bluetooth, they may run into problems if no vulnerabilities are accounted for.

“If someone can hack it, they can effectively control someone else’s arm or you can control the power and speed of the motors,” he said. “It would be a mess.”


eric.killelea@express-news.net

#experts #protect #industrial #robots #hackers

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *