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Self-Healing Ship Systems


RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): Cybersecurity

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Ground / Sea Vehicles; Information Systems

OBJECTIVE: Design self-healing computing systems for use on Navy vessels to keep a ship's primary functions operational in combat should the original computing system be damaged during an attack.

DESCRIPTION: What if, during combat, a ship is attacked by an enemy missile? The ship's physical weapon and propulsion systems are still intact but the computers that control them have been damaged. Ships cannot have several redundant racks of computers providing full operational capabilities as it is impossible to predict physical damage locations. Proposals simply based on virtual machines will not be considered competitive. What if other remaining computing platforms and network capabilities could be leveraged and prioritized to provide important functionality during combat? A commercial analogy would be a primary application runs on a user's laptop, but the user also has a smartphone and smartwatch. The laptop gets destroyed. The two remaining computing platforms could be leveraged to provide the primary functions of the original laptop application. A research institution can provide approaches such as mobile code, code analysis, and distribution of computing functionality.

PHASE I: Develop an approach and conduct a feasibility study on self-healing computing systems. Conduct analysis such as modeling and/or simulation. Provide a proof-of-concept demonstration with associated metrics of performance. The Proof of Concept should be able to identify key/essential components from the original application and successfully demonstrate how those components would execute on a system of lesser capabilities (processor, storage, and RAM) and distributed processing if necessary. The concept should also identify how to locate and migrate code around surviving computing and networking components left on the vessel. Develop a Phase II plan.

PHASE II: Prototype the concept using real hardware, applications, and networks. Conduct benchmark evaluations of the implementation. Analyze performance of remaining application as a function of computing platform and remaining code. Examine resultant network traffic for distribution and execution. Provide demonstration of prototype using scenarios of increasing complexity. Document approach, limitations, and metrics in final report.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: In current commercial disaster contingency planning modalities, backup data is kept far away at one or more offsite locations. Bandwidth during normal operations is largely sufficient. Backup operations cells or centers for operations also may exist remotely elsewhere for resiliency. However, during natural or manmade disasters these approaches may be insufficient. This technology could be relevant to many commercial scenarios to include enterprise networks and cyber-physical systems that will require resiliency and survivability in a crisis.


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  3. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. “Resilience.”
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