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Improving the Cybersecurity of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

ECE Assistant Professor Xiaolin Xu, in collaboration with Houbing Song at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Jiawei Yuan at UMass Dartmouth, was awarded a $500K NSF grant for “Bolstering UAV Cybersecurity Education through Curriculum Development with Hands-on Laboratory Framework”.


Abstract Source: NSF

The striking development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, is unleashing the increasing application in civilian and military scenarios. At the same time, serious cybersecurity concerns have been raised about UAVs, wherein they are identified as targets of cyber-attacks or potential attack vectors for malicious actors. This project seeks to improve UAV and cybersecurity education through the development of curriculum materials and hands-on laboratory platform. Specifically, this will include the development of 1) a set of cohesive course modules that systematically cover UAV cybersecurity topics; 2) a UAV cybersecurity laboratory platform that provides a series of exercise modules and can be easily deployed; 3) an open and collaborative UAV cybersecurity repository for educators, students, and researchers to discuss, collaborate, contribute, and share; and 4) faculty development summer workshops for UAV cybersecurity education.

This project is the first to provide education materials, including hands-on labs on UAV cybersecurity systematically. The intellectual merit of the proposed project lies in its development of the novel, effective, and engaging course modules on UAV cybersecurity. The deliverables include a low-cost hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) UAV experimental kit; the integrated development environment (IDE) to use the tool kits; multiple hands-on labs covering the hardware security, communication security, network security, and data security. The investigators will build awareness and competence to respond to a dynamic and rapidly developing array of cyber threats, especially those in the emerging UAV applications.

This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Related Departments:Electrical & Computer Engineering