UW Study Points Out Security Risks in Consumer Robots

Greg Galitzine : Robotics
Greg Galitzine

UW Study Points Out Security Risks in Consumer Robots

A University of Washington study points out that even though people are increasingly deploying household robots for entertainment purposes or for simple household chores, the industry is not paying enough attention to issues like safety or privacy risks.


Tadayoshi Kohno, a UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering, and a co-author of the report believes that while we're a long way off from robots potentially becoming evil and turning on their human masters, it's time to start considering the risks.

Robosapien 01_large.jpg 

"A lot of attention has been paid to robots becoming more intelligent and turning evil," he said, "but there is a much greater and more near-term risk, and that's bad people who can use robots to do bad things."


Among the problems noted in the report, the University of Washington researchers identified a series of security vulnerabilities in that the robots' audio and video streams can be intercepted on the home's wireless network or in some cases captured over the Internet.


Three consumer robots in particular were highlighted in the UW study:


·         WowWee Rovio

·         Erector Spykee; and

·         WowWee RoboSapien V2


The Rovio is WiFi enabled and features a mobile webcam that lets users view and interact with its environment through streaming video and audio, from wherever they have access to an Internet connection.


Spykee solo.JPGSpykee is a WiFi controlled spy robot designed to "move watch, speak, hear and monitor anything" a user wants from any Internet enabled location.


RoboSapien features a full range of dynamic motion and interactive sensors.


The findings were presented earlier this month at the International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing, which was held in Orlando.

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