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Not Just Another IoT Post... Have You Heard of IoBT?

sciencebae profile image Julia ・3 min read

It is not a secret that IoT is one of the fastest growing markets in the world of technology. Experts predict that the market revenue will reach $1.6 billion by 2025.

Some of the most familiar futuristic concepts include smart cities, autonomous cars that communicate with each other, delivery bots, and so on. However, there is one industry that employs and does some serious research on IoT that no one really speaks about – the military.

It is clear that the future of the battlefield is going to be high-tech, just like in science fiction movies and video games. The possibilities of IoT devices that the military can use to aid soldiers in a battle can include biometric wearables, sensors, autonomous vehicles, robots and drones, and even munition. These devices will be connected to cloud or fog computing.

What do we know so far?

In 2017, U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) established the Internet of Battle Things (IoBT) Collaborative Research Alliance. The IoBT can be summarized as a set of interconnected “things” that are self-aware, adaptive and autonomous, interacting with humans and battlefield environments with great complexity. This could include sensors, control components, networks, and information sources.

There have been several universities selected to participate in this research: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Massachusetts, University of California – Los Angeles and Berkley, University of southern California, Carnegie Mellon University, and SRI International.

The official research topics are as follow:

Discovery, Composition and Adaptation of Goal-Driven Heterogeneous IoBTs:
Novel mathematical theories and scientific insights leading to scalable composition and management of heterogeneous IoBTs enabling secure information sharing to meet multiple dynamic mission goals.

Autonomic IoBTs to Enable Intelligent Services:
Theoretical foundations, models, and methods of autonomic complex systems that deliver adaptive cyber-physical capabilities and services necessary to enable effective command and control across military (blue), adversary (red), and civilian (gray) domains.

Distributed Asynchronous Processing and Analytics of Things:
Scientific principles, theories, and methods and predictive processing, analytics, and anomaly detection of broadly heterogeneous and varied data that may be unknown combinations of sparse and voluminous; centralized and distributed; and trusted and suspect for the purposes of augmenting goal-driven decision-making.

Cyber-Physical Security:
Theoretical and pragmatic cross-cutting methods that address the challenges of the above research areas, while enriching the resiliency of the IoBT, such that it can be hardened against tampering and adversarial compromise, continue operating under attacks, and provide bounded guarantees of performance.

Challenges of IoBT.

Currently, IoBT is facing several challenges. Complex networks require a totally different approach from what the military has now, considering it directly affects the safety of military personnel, civilians, and the country as a whole. IT teams need to be properly trained on these network security solutions. In addition to understanding the features and function of their tools, they should continuously evaluate and reevaluate these tools to ensure they are adequate to address their security concerns.

Another challenge is adequate preparedness of the employees – civilian and military personnel. A study done in 2018 found that a large portion of survey responders ranked inadequate organizational strategy and lack of user training as barriers to network optimization. What happens if we throw IoBT into the mix of already advanced technologies that we have?

While the whole concept of IoBT may seem like something straight out of futuristic warfare science fiction, it is very real and is evolving rapidly. There have already been numerous “doomsday-style” articles published all over the internet, claiming IoBT to be controversial and scary; mentioned “killer-robots” and SkyNet-like AI taking over the world.

The military paved roads to creation of numerous technologies and devices that people now use, some even in everyday life. For example, internal combustion engine, walkie talkie, radar systems, GPS, and many more were all military inventions. In this post I will refrain from political statements and comments on war itself, however, I think that because the military has access to extraordinary resources, the development of IoBT and some of its functions can be applied to the civilian world and help ordinary people.

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