Modern vehicles produce a lot of signals, but they’re not always easy to capture or interpret. For the most part, only the manufacturers know what it all means.
Now, Battelle scientists have created a way to not only understand those signals, but to make sense of them and put them to use. The result is two new internally developed products that can help the military motor pools and other operators of large fleets with a variety of affordable ways to lengthen the life of vehicles and protect them from cyber effects.
How Does It Work?
CANprotect™ technology and one of it’s subcomponents, MechGuard™, uses information from a vehicle’s data bus—the system that transfers information between on-board computers. “Once you understand the signals the vehicle is giving you, you can understand the context,” said Keith Kresge, a program manager for cyber solutions at Battelle.
The project started by interpreting data from the various terrains where vehicles had been operated. Scientists and engineers from different areas of Battelle began to create algorithms to make sense of the data. That blossomed into a way to interpret the giant amounts of data that a vehicle produces in real time. “The tech team is the main reason the two solutions are special,” said Kresge. “It is a classic example of separate people at Battelle coming together and learning together. The cyber guys didn’t know vehicles and the vehicle guys didn’t know cyber. But they asked the right questions.”
Providing Concrete Vehicle Metrics
Now, the products—either software, hardware or both—are providing metrics that were previously subjective. They can reveal the condition of vehicles and how they’ve been used. “Once it’s on the vehicle and the vehicle tells the story, then it feeds back into the science,” said Kresge. From there, we can begin to answer questions like “Why is the shock failing so fast? Do you need to adjust or redesign the shock?”
In addition to monitoring vehicle data on new and old vehicles, the product also patrols for cyber anomalies. It creates a “check data bus warning light” to give operators real-time advice while protecting existing functionality and performance.
Chris Braney is a Battelle logistician and who served in the Marine Corps for 30 years. He says currently, the standard practice for fleets of military vehicles is to conduct maintenance on a time-based schedule set by a combination of Service policy and OEM requirements. He said a routine annual review of a vehicle might have a checklist of a 1,000-items. “Now we can focus on targeted maintenance, only fixing what’s required based on the environment the vehicle is operating in,” he said. “I can get ahead of major critical failures. The last thing you want is a broken truck on a battlefield. If I can address maintenance ahead of time and prevent critical failures it will increase the operational readiness of the fleet.”
Supply Chain Benefits
He said it also brings efficiency and effectiveness into the supply chain, meaning fleet operators can quickly learn what parts they need to have on hand versus ones they don’t need constantly. Fleet operators can also prioritize vehicles instead of resetting them merely because it is scheduled on a calendar. “Why put money into a good truck just because it’s its turn in the queue?” he asked. Braney also said the cyber detection aspect of the product will inform users on anomalies in platform performance. “The advancement of CANprotect™ will provide users with notifications if an adversary is trying to manipulate my platform and actions we can take to mitigate affects.”
CANprotect™ continues to advance, and we are shifting our focus to demonstrate this technology in programs with the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation. Our goal is to demonstrate the value of this technology to our customers and expand its use across the Department of Defense, other government agencies and commercial industry.