PI: Venkat Viswanathan, Mechanical Engineering
Co-PI(s): Vyas Sekar, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Koushil Sreenath, Mechanical Engineering

We envision two key technology trends that are poised to revolutionize the automotive industry in the near future and that are likely to stay for the foreseeable future: (1) the commoditization of electric vehicles (EVs) and (2) the emergence of autonomous driving systems. These trends offer great promise to different stakeholders (consumers, car manufacturers, governments, society) in terms of costs, efficiency, and environmental impact. While these benefits are promising, they are accompanied by (valid) concerns with respect to safety and security. EVs in particular at present have an increased perceived safety and security risk due to concerns about fire hazards (e.g., large battery packs contain electrolytes based on known flammable materials), “range anxiety” (e.g., how much can we drive on a single charge), and battery life. These concerns with respect to car safety are very real – recent hack with 2014 Jeep Cherokee proves this point! The goal of our research project is to develop a principled understanding of the challenges associated in electric vehicle safety and security, specifically targeted at the battery system (e.g., safety, range, life). Addressing this problem entails an interdisciplinary approach combining battery modeling with system-level security analysis. To this end, we will develop (1) develop robust models for degradation and identify danger zones of operation; (2) systematic “attack graphs” that shed light on possible attack strategies; (3) concrete demonstrations of attacks against EV batteries; and (4) control strategies to mitigate the damage from these attacks.