The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Artificial Intelligence Guards Against Unknown Cybersecurity Threats

Artificial intelligence (AI) group SparkCognition and its SkyGrid joint venture with Boeing have launched a collaboration to introduce new levels of cybersecurity protection for autonomous aircraft, including eVTOL models and drones. The partners’ DeepArmor product is intended to protect aircraft from being hacked in flight from so-called zero-day attacks, for which systems manufacturers have not developed a security patch because their origin and identity is unknown.

SkyGrid claims to offer the first airspace management system with AI-powered cybersecurity protection. The Texas-based company says its approach is more secure than traditional anti-malware protection that depends on knowing the signatures of known threats.

In a January 19 announcement, SkyGrid said the DeepArmor protection is integrated with SkyGrid’s AerialOS system and can be deployed to protect any part of the aircraft or drone to work even when network connectivity is impaired or unavailable. The AI used to develop the system has been “trained” to recognize the “DNA of malicious files” instead of having to depend on identifying them from a database of malware signatures.

“In the near future, we’ll essentially have a network of flying computers in the sky and just like the computers we use today, drones can be hacked if not secured properly,” said Amir Husain, CEO and founder of both SkyGrid and SparkCognition. “In this emerging environment, traditional anti-malware technology won’t be adequate to detect these never-before-seen attacks. SkyGrid is taking a new intelligent approach by using AI to more accurately detect and prevent cyberattacks from impacting a drone, a payload, or a ground station.”

Last year SkyGrid introduced a mission management app as part of AerialOS. This includes the following features: airspace intelligence (maps of airspace classes, boundaries, and temporary flight restrictions, etc.), ground intelligence (displays of population density, obstacles, elevation, etc.), advanced weather data, real-time airspace authorization (through integration with the LAANC 4.0 system), automated mission planning (area exploration, waypoints, and customized mission parameters such as speed, altitude, and location), autonomous flight execution, and object recognition supported by artificial intelligence computer vision.