With combined funding of $ 1.6 million from the two partners and the federal government, researchers at the University of Waterloo will seek solutions to a major industry challenge: protecting autonomous vehicles from cyberattacks

University of Waterloo partners with auto parts and vehicle assembly giant Magna International and the federal government to fund autonomous vehicle cybersecurity research project that will help ensure safety and security vehicles as they become more autonomous.

More and more universities, engineers, automakers and lawmakers are responding to autonomous driving functions in ways that indicate that autonomous vehicles are now a reality and will play a huge role in the future of transportation.

Waterloo’s five-year, $ 1.6 million project will focus on developing theories, methods and tools to create “complex automotive software” for connected and automated vehicles.

Professor Sebastian Fischmeister, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo.

“Software is the main driver of automotive innovation. New paradigms for performing functions in software are constantly emerging, the latest being machine learning, ”said Sebastian Fischmeister, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Waterloo in an emailed statement to Autonomy Electric Canada.

“The industry has a huge demand for talent and highly qualified personnel to pursue innovation through software, and there is a gap in the understanding of how new paradigms can be used safely in business-critical systems. security such as automobile. ”

In good company

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is providing $ 600,000 over five years for the Waterloo project, while the University is investing $ 400,000. Magna, headquartered in Aurora, Ontario, is contributing $ 600,000, along with a Jeep Cherokee test vehicle.

“The importance of safety in automotive systems cannot be overstated,” Jim Quesenberry, director of research and development at Magna, said in a press release. “Magna is committed to delivering products and systems that not only meet current safety standards, but also set the benchmark for future performance. “

The research project will take place in the university’s shared research center, the Autonomous Vehicle Research and Intelligence Lab (APRIL), which opened in 2020. AVRIL provides a space for researchers to work on a wide range of different mobility applications. The facility includes 10 truck-height workstations, a driving simulator with an immersive 210-degree display, and level two chargers for electric vehicles. Projects currently underway at AVRIL include research on third-row occupant protection, advanced driver monitoring data collection, automated eco-driving, self-driving, WATonoBus, driving stimuli and vehicles. land unmanned all terrain.

Fischmeister, who holds the NSERC / Magna Industrial Research Chair in Automotive Software for Connected and Automated Vehicles and is also the spearhead of this most recent autonomous vehicle cybersecurity project, and will be working with the newest member of the corps. Waterloo professor, Yash Vardhan Pant.

“Yash’s expertise lies in decision-making algorithms for autonomous systems and in the formal assurance of the security of such systems with modules (software) based on machine learning in the decision loop”, explains Fischmeister. . “Since one of the biggest challenges that stand-alone systems face is their lack of security guarantees, this expertise will help develop methods for automated testing of such systems to uncover the conditions that trigger unsafe behavior, and also to improve decision-making systems to overcome some of these limitations.

Foster long-standing partnerships

The results of Waterloo’s research will be delivered exclusively to Magna engineers, to develop new features and secure products while finding new ways to reuse older software to help shorten the development time of more complex products.

“To meet the demands of autonomous and connected systems, Magna is excited to work with the University of Waterloo, and the deep knowledge and expertise it brings to this initiative,” said Quesenberry.

In the past, Magna has worked closely with the Waterloo Engineering Department, hiring over 575 co-op students over the past 15 years and investing $ 200,000 for a new Waterloo Institute of Artificial Intelligence in 2018.

Mary Wells, Dean of Waterloo Engineering, said in a press release: “We are engaging in research that is beyond imagination, research that has a positive impact on the world. Industry partnerships that are rooted in real-world needs, such as this important project with Magna, are the cornerstone of these research programs. “


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