Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
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Section: New Results

Cyberphysical constructs and mobile communications for fully automated networked vehicles

Participant : Gérard Le Lann.

Safety, privacy, efficiency, and cybersecurity (SPEC) properties are key to the advent of self-forming and self-healing networks of fully automated (driverless) terrestrial vehicles. Such vehicles are referred to as Next-Gen Vehicles (NGVs) in order to avoid confusion with Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs). NGVs prefigure SAE level 5 vehicles. CAVs and NGVs rest on robotics capabilities (sensors, motion control laws, actuators, onboard systems, etc.). CAVs are equipped with V2X (vehicle-to-everything) functionalities based on medium range WiFi radio communications. NGVs will be equipped with CMX (coordinated mobility for X) functionalities, X standing for S, P, E, and C, based on very short range communications (cellular radio and optics).

Work in 2019 has been devoted to defining the CMX framework and to comparing V2X and CMX functionalities. The outputs of this work have been published in [23].

Highest SE (safety and efficiency) is one of the most fundamental goals set to designers of onboard systems. It is surmised that onboard robotics must be supplemented with inter-vehicular communication (IVC) capabilities in order to achieve highest SE properties. Thus the question: which IVC capabilities? In the V2X framework, two distinct sets of IVC capabilities are considered, namely DSRC-V2X (WiFi radio) and C-V2X (4G LTE, 5G, cellular radio). IVC capabilities in the CMX framework encompass cellular radio, VLC and passive optics.

Since V2X functionalities rest on medium range radio communications, they are vulnerable to remote and local cyberattacks (message falsification, masquerading, Sybil attacks, injection of bogus messages, DDoS attacks, etc.). It has been amply demonstrated that such cyberattacks can compromise safety (collisions caused by remote and/or local attackers) as well as efficiency (congested roadways and cities). Furthermore, V2X functionalities break down when radio channels are noisy (messages get lost) or/and jammed (intentional remote and local cyberattacks). Finally, owing to decade-old design decisions, there are no privacy properties with V2X functionalities. For example, every CAV must periodically broadcast messages that carry vehicle-centric characteristics and unencrypted current GNSS space coordinates (referred to as beaconing, frequencies ranging between 1 Hz and 10 Hz. Despite certificate-based pseudonymisation, routes followed by vehicles can be tracked and communications can be eavesdropped and recorded. Linkage with passengers) personal data is straightforward.

Therefore, in addition to degrading safety and efficiency properties achieved by onboard robotics, V2X functionalities do not meet elementary requirements regarding privacy and cybersecurity. Some proponents of the V2X approach assert that it is impossible to deliver road safety without breaching passengers' privacy. To be valid, that statement should be backed with an impossibility proof. Such a proof has not appeared yet and will never appear for the simple reason that safety and privacy properties can be achieved jointly, by design, proofs given, as demonstrated with the CMX approach.

From a more theoretical perspective, the V2X and the CMX frameworks can be contrasted as follows. Unquestionably, full asynchrony is the appropriate model for representing the vehicular network universe faithfully. Vehicles are started or stopped at arbitrary times, velocities change unpredictably, ditto for lane changes, on-ramp merging, concurrent traversals of intersections and roundabouts, and so on. Onboard processes that are life/safety critical are run in the presence of fortuitous failures, cyberattacks, and concurrency (due to resource sharing). It follows that even if one postulates the existence of finite bounds for process execution durations, it is impossible to assume any a priori knowledge of values taken by those bounds. That is precisely the definition of full asynchrony.

Numerous impossibility results relative to fully asynchronous systems have been published since the late-1970s. For example, problems akin to distributed consensus (terminating reliable broadcast, consistent multi-copied data structures, exact agreement, leader election, etc.) have no solutions in the presence of a single failure, even when communications are assumed to be perfect (no message losses). Since mobile wireless communications are unreliable, those results hold a fortiori in vehicular networks. Obviously, problems that involve termination in computable/predictable time bounds (a real-time property) have no solutions either.

The above-mentioned problems shall be solved in order to provide vehicles and vehicular networks with the SPEC properties. Knowing that solutions exist when considering synchrony models -such as e.g. partial synchrony, timed asynchrony, full synchrony- the challenge is to show how synchrony models could emerge from full asynchrony. This challenge is ignored in the V2X framework. Conclusion: since V2X designs are conducted considering full asynchrony, none of the SPEC properties may hold true.

The CMX framework results from addressing this challenge. NGVs are endowed with CMX functionalities which are based on specific cyberphysical constructs (cells, cohorts, flocks). These constructs serve to instantiate synchrony models within which it is possible to design protocols and algorithms (e.g., deterministic MAC protocols, time-bounded distributed algorithms for message dissemination, approximate agreement, and consensus) that are needed for establishing and proving the SPEC properties, while matching the real vehicular networks universe.

Concepts at the core of the CMX framework (cyberphysical levels, unfalsifiable vehicle profiles, proactive security modules, privacy-preserving naming, etc.) are detailed in [23]. Regarding SE properties, we show how to achieve theoretical absolute safety (no fatalities, no severe injuries) while keeping smallest safe gaps (highest efficiency) in cohort-structured vehicular networks, under assumptions of high coverage. As for PC properties, we show that passengers' privacy cannot be compromised via cyber eavesdropping and/or physical tracking of vehicles. This is due to the fact that messages do not carry vehicle-centric characteristics or GNSS space coordinates. CMX functionalities are shown to be immune to remote cyberattacks. Thanks to optical communications (in addition to very short range cellular radio), they can withstand radio channel jamming. Owing to controlled cohort admission, external local cyberattacks aimed at cohort members are inoperative. Local cyberattacks launched from the inside of a cohort, i.e. by cohort members themselves, can be thwarted. In the unlikely case of success, dishonest members would be involved in those collisions which they create. Conclusion: the only cyberattacks that may compromise safety in cohort-structured vehicular networks are due to irrational attackers.