Little Bird, the autonomous helicopter from Boeing to challenge hackers

Boeing-ULBLittle Bird, or rather ULB for Unmanned Little Bird, it is the Boeing unmanned helicopter demonstrator. It took the air for the first time in September 2004 and has accumulated 500 hours of flight to date. A success for Boeing in automation, but today this little helicopter will be assigned a new mission: challenge the hackers. It will be equipped with a brand new system embedded Linux deemed unassailable, the result of a huge research project for securing embedded software of the Darpa, the HACMS project.

HACMS, a project for securing embedded software addition of $ 50 million

A helicopter and a car should be equipped with 'unbreakable' software for DARPA by 2017.

A helicopter and a car should be equipped with ‘unbreakable’ software for DARPA by 2017.

High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems (HACMS) is one of the major Darpa-funded research projects. The bottom of US Army Research account inject between 50 and 80 million not to create a weapon, but a firmware for drone. The 3 phases of 18 months of the project mobilized 100 researchers in cutting-edge in the field from the embedded since 2012. The idea of the HACMS is not secure the system onboard the drone with a bypassed any firewall that will, one day or the other, but create a truly unassailable code. A code completely devoid of security from its commissioning flaw here is what let pensive when one sees the rain of current commercial software or even industrial systems SCADA security vulnerabilities.
The objective of the HACMS project is to produce the embedded code to a drone completely unassailable not from the point of view of security experts, but from the mathematical point of view.This is what is called the formal validation of the code. A purely mathematical proof of source code that ensures that it does not contain any bug, that no leakage of memory would lead to a system crash and plunge the drone down.

Automatic code generation preferred by researchers

A quadcopter drone has successfully to ultra-secure software from HACMS. Avec succès, selon les membres du projet.

A quadcopter drone has successfully to ultra-secure software from HACMS.

And as even the best team of developers can achieve such a flawlessly on the development of a comprehensive embedded OS and autopilot software, project HACMS prefer the solution of domain-specific languages (Domain specific language) coupled to automatic code generators. The Embedded DSL are languages specifically created for a specific area. In the context of the HACMS, two languages have been created: Ivory, an open-source EDSL for creating embedded low-level software and language Tower is highest level: it allows the developer to define the tasks that will have to carry out the application, connect the tasks between them. Of these applications, the code generator generates C language source code that will be compiled and installed in the controller of the drone.
The HASCMS researchers have created a microkernel Linux, whose security has been validated mathematically that was released in Open Source. The Linux kernel will power Boeing’s Little Bird. AH-6 Cockpit AH-6 CockpitIt has already been proven in a first drone, the SMACCMCopter. Software Galois Inc., the responsible development startup, has already placed on GitHub and is thus freely downloadable and usable by all manufacturers of drones. This small quadcopter has already been presented to the Pentagon in may 2014 and work on Little Bird software has started, the objective being to fly the unbreakable ‘100% ‘ helicopter before 2017.
The interest of this research, is that if she obviously interested members who want blinder their drones to avoid potential hijacking, applications are multiple. The project includes equipping a car of such embedded computing. Perhaps although the autonomous cars of the future will have the same kernel linux as Boeing’s next Little Bird.
Translation : Bing Translator

Sources :

“Pentagon on Path to Launch Hacker-Proof Boeing Drone by 2018”, NextGov, March 11, 2015

“DARPA Unveils Hack-Proof Drone”, DefenseTech, May 21, 2014

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