Attack-Resilient Simplex (ARSimplex) Architecture for Autopilot System

A key challenge towards the realization of the concept “using simplicity to control complexity” is to create a Trusted Computing Base (TCB) that promptly acts upon security and safety violations by closely monitoring the behavior of untrustworthy components. This research develops an attack-resilient software architecture for advanced control systems, called “ARSimplex”. This is achieved by taking advantage of modern embedded processors that feature virtualization technology and increased computing power due to multiple cores. ARSimplex runs two separate control environments as shown in Figure 1; Normal Control Environment (NCE): It runs software components for any normal function; Secure Control Environment (SCE): It runs a minimal set of software components that are critically required to control the physical system.


Based on ARSimplex architecture, a team of IRL researchers, including Ph.D. candidate Man-Ki Yoon, Dr. Bo Liu, Prof. Naira Hovakimyan and Prof. Lui Sha, recently developed a drone platform that can continue flying safely, even when a cyber-attack kills the flight controller, and return to home safely, when a suspicious change on the flight plan is detected.


ARSimplex Architecture [1].

Virtual Drone demonstration (Click to watch the Youtube video)

VirtualDrone on IRL website (Click to learn more)


  1. M.-K. Yoon, B. Liu, N. Hovakimyan, and L. Sha, “VirtualDrone: Virtual sensing, actuation, and communication for attackresilient unmanned aerial systems,” in Proceedings of the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Cyber-Physical Systems, 2017.
  2. X. Wang, N. Hovakimyan, and L. Sha, “L1Simplex: Fault-tolerant control of cyber-physical systems,” in Proceedings of the ACM/IEEE 4th International Conference on Cyber-Physical Systems, CPS Week, 2013, pp. 41–50.