New research institute solves information security of robotic cars and drones


Aalto University is a member of Intel Labs' CARS research lab that tackles security and privacy challenges of autonomous systems.

Intel and leading European universities in the field of cybersecurity and privacy will open a new initiative for “Collaborative Autonomous & Resilient Systems” (CARS). Collaborating institutions include Aalto University, TU Darmstadt, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, TU Wien, and Luxembourg University. The coordinator of the new CARS lab will be TU Darmstadt serving as the hub university.

New research lab tackles security, privacy, and functional safety challenges of autonomous systems that may collaborate with each other – examples are drones, self-driving vehicles, or industrial automation systems. For drones, for example, autonomy means automation of flight and flying beyond field of vision. There might be a problem with information security when, for instance, a drone is carrying goods and observes a fault in its navigation system. Because of the fault, the drone lands immediately to prevent damage to itself and others. This in usual cases a positive feature could lead to a situation where the drone and the goods it carries end up in wrong hands, in case someone after the goods is able to access the navigation system guiding the drone.

Aalto University plans to address autonomous systems security by focusing on security and privacy of machine learning and distributed consensus. Distributed consensus ensures reliability even if a fault or an information security attack threatens the correct functioning of some parts of the system or actors.

The project aims to provide drones maximum protection against such attacks.

“Over the past four years, Intel has invested significantly to support research in our Secure Systems group. Regular interactions with Intel engineers and leaders allow us to gain valuable insights into real-world security and privacy challenges and steer our research accordingly. Being able to identify and work on real problems is hugely motivating for my students and me personally. I am delighted that Intel has decided to extend their collaboration with us in the renewed lab”, explains Professor N. Asokan from Aalto University.

Significant investment in information security research

'We are pleased to continue close cooperation with Aalto University and professor N. Asokan, since their research is focused on essential, practical and useful topics and the Secure Systems research group even publishes high-quality research articles,' says Matthias Schunter from Intel Labs.

The goal of the CARS lab is to kick off longer-term collaboration between leading research organizations to enhance resilience and trustworthiness of these cutting-edge technologies.

"Cyber security is one of the key enablers in the platforms economy and in the digital society. It is also an essential part of intelligent and autonomous transportation. Finnish cyber security research is top-level globally. Tekes is glad to see collaboration taking place between industry and academia in order to find out solutions for nearer-term needs and targets for longer-term research", says Pekka Sivonen, the Digital Area Director of Tekes - the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation.

The CARS lab is a new Intel Collaborative Lab as a continuation of the extremely successful Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Secure Computing (ICRI-SC) that included TU Darmstadt and Aalto University and focused on mobile and IoT security between 2012 and 2017. Noteworthy achievements resulting from this collaboration include Off-the-Hook, a client-side anti-phishing technique and SafeKeeper which uses Intel Software Guard Extensions to protect user passwords in web services; as well as TrustLite, a lightweight security architecture for IoT devices.

Further information:

N. Asokan
Aalto University
tel. +358 50 483 6465

Niina Idänheimo
Research Group Coordinator
Aalto University
tel. +358 50 521 3244

Intel Institute

Secure Systems group