Nicola Bezzo

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I am involved in several projects founded by DARPA, NSF, and DOT.


This project aims to develop ground vehicle control systems that are resilient to a variety of external attacks. Our approach is to combine control-level and code-level techniques, resulting in an approach comprised of two main stages: control law design and control task synthesis. Control-level defenses address attacks on the environment of the controller, such as attacks on sensors, actuators, communication media (i.e., the network) and computational resources available to the controller. Code-level defenses, achieved through verified code generation of control task code, prevent injection of malicious code into the operation of the controller itself.

Pictorial representation of GPS spoofing on the LandShark UGV.

NSF - An Expedition in Computing for Compiling Functional Physical Machines

This project envisions a future where 3-D robotic systems can be produced and designed using 2-D desktop technology fabrication methods. If this feat is achieved, it would be possible for the average person to design, customize and print a specialized robot in a matter of hours. Currently, it takes years and many resources to produce, program and design a functioning robot. This new project would completely automate the process, from sketches on-demand, anywhere, and with the skill of a team of professional engineers, leading to potential transformations in advanced manufacturing. The project addresses broad classes of constructible cyber-physical systems: the development of tools for functional specification and automated co-design of the mechanical, electrical, computing, and software aspects of the device; the design of planning and control algorithms for the assembly of the device and for delivering the desired function of behavior, and tools for the analysis of these algorithms that take into account all the necessary resources, including actuators, sensors and data streams from the world; the methodology to generate device-specific and task-specific programming environments that provide safeguards for programs written by non-expert users to enable them to operate the machines safely; and the development of novel approaches to the automated production of new devices which may be based on the synthesis of programmable materials with customizable electrical or mechanical properties. This research is highly multidisciplinary, primarily leveraging the disciplines of computer science, electrical and mechanical engineering, materials and manufacturing science. This project will create a community of interest in this new research area, reach out to young people in grades K-12, engage the national and international community through professional society meetings and establish new interdisciplinary programs among the participating academic institutions.

a) A printable quadrotor created by Prof. Vijay Kumar's group; b) Our High Level programming language (ROSLab) for robotic applications; c) a foldable insect robot created by Prof. Daniela Rus's group at MIT.

U.S. DOT - University Transportation Center

The goal of this project is to research a wide range of transportation-related issues including: improving health and safety for all users of the transportation system, including bicycles, pedestrians and transit modes; reducing carbon emissions and other environmental impacts of transportation through a transition to zero-emission vehicles and fuels; and evaluating how increasingly autonomous vehicles affect driver behavior, safety and performance.

The MiniShark UGV developed at UPenn in collaboration with Prof. Dan Lee's group running in secure Cruise Control.


ROSLab is a high-level programming environment for robotic applications. It uses a front end user interface in which a user can drag and drop blocks and links and connect them to create ROS/C++ software architecture for robotic applications. The tool has been extended to support mechanical and electronics co-design. Version 1 of ROSLab for software code generation is available for download here