Partition-Tolerant and Byzantine-Tolerant Decision-Making for Distributed Robotic Systems with IOTA and ROS 2

Farhad Keramat, Jorge Peña Queralta, Tomi Westerlund

With the increasing ubiquity of autonomous robotic solutions, the interest in their connectivity and in the cooperation within multi-robot systems is rising. Two aspects that are a matter of current research are robot security and secure multi-robot collaboration robust to byzantine agents. Blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) have been proposed to address the challenges in both domains. Nonetheless, some key challenges include scalability and deployment within real-world networks. This paper presents an approach to integrating IOTA and ROS 2 for more scalable DLT-based robotic systems while allowing for network partition tolerance after deployment. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first implementation of IOTA smart contracts for robotic systems, and the first integrated design with ROS 2. This is in comparison to the vast majority of the literature which relies on Ethereum. We present a general IOTA+ROS 2 architecture leading to partition-tolerant decision-making processes that also inherit byzantine tolerance properties from the embedded blockchain structures. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed framework for a cooperative mapping application in a system with intermittent network connectivity. We show both superior performance with respect to Ethereum in the presence of network partitions, and a low impact in terms of computational resource utilization. These results open the path for wider integration of blockchain solutions in distributed robotic systems with less stringent connectivity and computational requirements.