Trusted Unmanned Aerial System Operations

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Virginia Tech


Proving the correctness of autonomous systems is challenged by the use of non-deterministic artificial intelligence algorithms and ever-increasing lines of code. While correctness is conventionally determined through analysis and testing, it is impossible to train and test the system for all possible scenarios or formally analyze millions of lines of code. This thesis describes an alternative method that monitors system behavior during runtime and executes a recovery action if any formally specified property is violated. Multiple parallel safety monitors synthesized from linear temporal logic (LTL) formulas capturing the correctness and liveness properties are implemented in isolated configurable hardware to avoid negative impacts on the system performance. Model checking applied to the final implementation establishes the correctness of the last line of defense against malicious attacks and software bugs. The first part of this thesis illustrates the monitor synthesis flow with rules defining a three-dimensional cage for a commercial-off-the-shelf drone and demonstrates the effectiveness of the monitoring system in enforcing strict behaviors. The second part of this work defines safety monitors to provide assurances for a virtual autonomous flight beyond visual line of sight. Distinct sets of monitors are called into action during different flight phases to monitor flight plan conformance, stability, and airborne collision avoidance. A wireless interface supported by the proposed architecture enables the configuration of monitors, thereby eliminating the need to reprogram the FPGA for every flight. Overall, the goal is to increase trust in autonomous systems as demonstrated with two common drone operations.



Runtime verification, Safety monitors, Field programmable gate arrays, UAS, Formal methods