Secure Encoded Instruction Graphs for End-to-End Data Validation in Autonomous Robots

Jorge Peña Queralta, Li Qingqing, Eduardo Castelló Ferrer, Tomi Westerlund

As autonomous robots become increasingly ubiquitous, more attention is being paid to the security of robotic operation. Autonomous robots can be seen as cyber-physical systems that transverse the virtual realm and operate in the human dimension. As a consequence, securing the operation of autonomous robots goes beyond securing data, from sensor input to mission instructions, towards securing the interaction with their environment. There is a lack of research towards methods that would allow a robot to ensure that both its sensors and actuators are operating correctly without external feedback. This paper introduces a robotic mission encoding method that serves as an end-to-end validation framework for autonomous robots. In particular, we put our framework into practice with a proof of concept describing a novel map encoding method that allows robots to navigate an objective environment with almost-zero a priori knowledge of it, and to validate operational instructions. We also demonstrate the applicability of our framework through experiments with real robots for two different map encoding methods. The encoded maps inherit all the advantages of traditional landmark-based navigation, with the addition of cryptographic hashes that enable end-to-end information validation. This end-to-end validation can be applied to virtually any aspect of robotic operation where there is a predefined set of operations or instructions given to the robot.