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CMIX faculty leads a NSF funded Project in the amount of 1.1 Million

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CMIX faculy Dr. Xiali Hei leads a project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The title of the project is "MRI: Development of High-Confidence Medical Cyber-Physical System Research Instrument with Benchmark Security Software". It is a 3-year grant for research that could improve the safety of surgical robots and other “cyber-physical” systems in health care. They have been awarded $1,134,297 by the National Science Foundation through the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program, to be matched by an additional $486,127 from UL Lafayette.  The team includes Drs. Xiali Hei (PI), Christoph W. Borst (co-PI), Mohsen Amini Salehi (co-PI), Arun Lakhotia, and Anthony Maida from the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences; Drs. Zhongqi Pan (co-PI), Raju Gottumukkala (co-PI), Alan A. Barhorst, Mohammad R. Madani, and Hui Yan from the College of Engineering; and Ms. Frances Stueben from the College of Nursing & Health Sciences. 

Advances in health care increasingly involve specialized hardware and software such as pacemakers and robotic equipment. However, these advances can introduce new risks, including computer network failures and attacks from hackers. Clearly, patient safety depends on reliable and secure hardware and software.

As a key project component, the grant will purchase an experimental Raven II surgical robot and support the team as they develop a testbed for their methods for detecting and dealing with events that threaten safety and security. They will work on both hardware (for example, touch sensing) and software (human–machine security, physical-control security, and AI security), as well as the interfaces between these components.

“Medical cyber–physical systems (MCPS) require high reliability and security because they are safety critical. The lack of test benchmarks, suitable hardware–software interfaces, and easy-to-test hardware platforms makes it challenging to evaluate, verify, and validate the security mechanisms and reliability of high-confidence MCPS. This project aims to develop a configurable, extendable, open-source, reliable, human-in-the-loop high-confidence MCPS testbed” said Dr. Xiali Hei, an Assistant Professor at UL’s School of Computing and Informatics, who is leading the project.

“This project will improve the ability to simulate attack/defense methods and it will provide a simulation platform for cyber–physical attacks, including AI-based attacks, and for control instability detectors. The project will allow researchers to conduct multidisciplinary work across computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, robotic telesurgery, and nursing. It will provide education and training for postdoctoral fellows, undergraduates, and graduate students, The instrument will also be used outside UL to support cyber-enabled collaborative operations and data sharing among over 20 collaborators,” she added.