Make robotics safety a top priority

Competition in the industrial robotics market is intensifying as global investments are expected to reach 210 billion dollars by 2025 – more than double the amount by 2020. Companies are increasingly recognizing the business value that robots can bring to their businesses because they have the power to change what is possible in the physical world. For example, STRUNG from Adidas is an industry-first textile robot that uses athlete data to make perfectly fitting shoes while reducing material waste.

As the industry continues to become more competitive, robotics manufacturers are eagerly developing new machines with ever more impressive features. Many of them are built on the Robot operating system, the standard open source framework for developing robotic applications.

There is, however, one key area of ​​development that robotics companies cannot ignore in the race to get their robots to market quickly, and that is security. Companies that develop and produce robots should ensure that safety is a priority from the moment a robot design is conceived, and not an afterthought. By doing this, they can ensure that a robot is protected and that it is not seen as the weakest link in an organization’s network.

Ensuring security from day one

As the demand for industrial robots increases, it can be tempting to rush into the development phase and get them shipped quickly. In doing so, companies risk not securing bots from the start and will be faced with the task of trying to modernize security measures, which ultimately becomes impossible to do properly. This is because trying to go back and implement security means that the robot is already exposed to vulnerabilities, such as hard-coded credentials, unencrypted development keys, and various other security weaknesses.

A similar approach was taken with IoT security when the tech industry was too late to focus on it, and many devices came with weak password protection and a path and update of the network. inefficient system.

The fate of security in IoT and robotics is closely linked to the emergence of the robotic Internet of Things (IoRT), where robots can monitor events, merge sensor data from various sources in its network. , use this data to determine the best course of action and then act to control objects in the physical world. As an industry, the tech sector has overlooked the need for strict security measures for IoT, and we need to make sure the same doesn’t happen with robotics.

It starts with a proactive, tight security strategy that ensures there are sufficient levels of protection in place. For example, just having a password in place won’t be enough to keep hackers out. Multi-factor authentication should be implemented to ensure that a business is doing everything possible to protect its sensitive data.

But businesses can’t just implement security measures and get their job done. Regular risk assessments should be performed to identify, analyze and assess the risk to ensure that the cybersecurity controls they have chosen are still appropriate. Without it, a business can waste time, effort and resources. Ultimately, a robot is another networked device within an organization that should be included in risk assessments and corrected as necessary.

Let’s put in place regulations

A big step forward in ensuring that safety is a high priority in the development of robotics should also involve the robot operating system (ROS). So far, the ROS hasn’t been designed with safety in mind, but it’s not too late to change that. ROS isn’t just software, it’s an international community of developers, academics, and engineers who have made it their mission to make robots better.

As a result, the field of robotics has a huge pool of talent to tap into to optimize security protocols, but it is not currently taking advantage of it. If so, the community could support each other to identify and report vulnerabilities, suggest ways to strengthen measures, monitor and propose secure design principles, and apply recommendations from cybersecurity frameworks.

Regulations can also be put in place to add an extra layer of security. These already exist in other areas of technology, so why shouldn’t they be applied to open source development? Regulations should not be restrictive either, innovation-driven regulation, based on the collective views of developers and users within the community, can help spur the development of open source robotic security. For example, the British government cybersecurity law proposals are configured to cover the connected devices that make up the IoT and should be extended to meet robotics security.

The safety of robotics cannot be overlooked

The robotics market is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years as more industries understand the value it can bring. But it’s up to those who plan, design and run the robots themselves to ensure that strict security protocols are in place.

The security of robotics is complex, but it is important that companies are not tempted to rush the production process to keep up with the competition. Organizations must implement processes to strengthen security from day one, or risk losing their assets in the future.

The opportunities that bots provide to businesses have the potential to be endless, but only if they are properly secured and if those security policies are reviewed and maintained. If maintained, businesses can expect to protect themselves from unnecessary loss and damage.


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