UW telerobotic security hacking

The past decade has seen an incredible increase in public interest in technological security, and now the RAVEN has been at the center of a discussion of security in surgical robotics. Researchers at the University of Washington BioRobotics Lab have released a paper detailing their results from a “hacking” experiment, showing that without proper network security a surgeon could have control taken or augmented. The research team, led by PhD candidates Tamara Bonaci and Jeffrey Herron and Professor Howard Chizeck, demonstrated several ways in which hijackers could potentially interfere or take control during safety-critical telerobotic operations.

Of note, however, is that this experiment has not uncovered any security flaws in robots used for human operations. Rather, the research was performed with the RAVEN robot, which is a perfect platform for uncovering theoretical safety concerns without putting any life at risk. The RAVEN’s open source code was not the focus of this study, but rather the communication system that it employs. The RAVEN’s open source code allows these researchers and others to freely discover and fix any flaws on their own and these fixes can be tested and approved before distributing to other robots.

For more information about the RAVEN or RAVEN research, please feel free to contact us at info (at) applieddexterity. The original paper and several articles can be found at these links:

original paper

sophos.com article

MIT Technology Review article

imedicalapps article

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