Design for Security

This chapter discusses security aspects.

Architecture and dataflow

As a reminder of the high-level architecture, we refer to two figures from the integration chapter. The RSS Subsystem within the autonomous driving (AD) system has a single input called rssWorldModelData, and outputs called rssProperResponse and rssAccelerationRestrictions. The section decribes further details of the RSS function including the internal calculation steps and internal dataflow.

In addition, we refer to the C++ software class ad::rss::core::RssCheck that implements the external RSS interface. The top-level external interface is implemented using a single routine, called calculateAccelerationRestriction(), which is a member function of the RssCheck class. This routine has a single input, called worldModel (of type ad::rss::world::WorldModel, and a single output, called accelerationRestriction of type ad::rss::world::AccelerationRestriction.

The library is single-thread, does not make network connections, and does not make connections with other processes remote or local.

The library does not make use of any 3rd party components besides logging capabilities, and as such does not have additional security dependencies.

The primary adversary model is one where invalid/incorrect input data could be provided to the library input interface by the system or from an upstream source.

In the following sections, we discuss security aspects related to: input data (implemented by ad::rss::world::WorldModel), output data (implemented by ad::rss::world::AccelerationRestrictions), and the RSS function itself (implemented by ad::rss::core::RssCheck` and supporting library classes).

RSS input data (ad::rss::world::WorldModel)

Input data source

The input data is contained in ad::rss::world::WorldModel. This data includes distances to other road agents (vehicles and other) and velocities of other road agents. This data also includes description of the geometry of the road (and road lanes).

The data contained in ad::rss::world::WorldModel is provided directly by a calling routine external to the RSS library. Typically, this data will ultimately originate from the vehicle sensing subsystem, but it is the responsibility of the calling routine to receive, convert, and provide this sensing-derived data to the RSS function in the correct format. The calling routine must ensure the integrity of the input data provided to the RSS library functions.

Validity of input data and error handling

The library attempts to ensure the validity of the input data, and handle cases of improper or invalid input data, in several ways.

Several explicit checks of the input data validity are performed, including the following.

  • Check that the data structure describing the local road and lane geometries is internally consistent. The description of a local road follows basic constraints, and if the description is inconsistent with these constraints, the routine that analyzes the situation from the input data returns, with the success/fail flag set to fail.
  • Check that the data structures describing the ego-vehicle or other objects (other vehicles) are internally consistent. The routine that analyzes the situation checks against basic constraints. If the constraints are violated, the routine returns with the success/fail flag set to fail. For this, the routines withinValidInputRange() are used. The respective Doxygen description of these contains the absolute values against which the inputs (like e.g. velocities, accelerations, etc.) are checked.

Error handling: Each routine in the library that invokes subroutines checks a success/fail flag returned by the subroutine. In addition, many routines perform custom checking of the internal logic against known constraints of RSS. A failure of a logic check or of a subroutine results in interruption of the routine and a fail flag being passed to the calling routine.

Exception handling: The code-blocks in high-level routines are enclosed inside C++ try-catch blocks. Any exception thrown at lower-level software routines results in a fail flag being returned to the caller of the publicly available high-level routines.

When any of the above errors occur, the top-level RSS routine, ad::rss:core::RssCheck::calculateAccelerationRestriction(), will return with the success/fail flag set to fail.

Logging: The top-level routine in the library returns a success/fail flag that can be recorded by logging functions that may be available in the overall AD system (external to the library). The reason for the failure is logged using the global logger defined by spdlog.

Non-functional requirements

The size of the input data ad::rss::world::WorldModel provided to ad::rss::core::RssCheck is determined by the number of other objects (other vehicles or road agents) that the ego-vehicle is interacting with, and the size of the description of each object and associated road areas. Based on this, it is straightforward to bound the size of data that must be consumed by the ad::rss::core::RssCheck in a single call, based on the sizes of individual datatypes and by bounding the number of objects.

It is the responsibility of the system integrator to determine the number of objects the system can handle and to bound the size of the input data.

It is the responsibility of the system integrator to determine an appropriate rate or a maximum rate at which the top-level routine, ad::rss::core::RssCheck::calculateAccelerationRestriction(), should be invoked.

The latency resulting from the processing time of ad::rss::core::RssCheck::calculateAccelerationRestriction() should be strictly limited, due to the real-time nature of the AD system and closed-loop interaction with the real world environment. This latency should be less than the time period (1/rate) of the Act Subsystem. It is the responsibility of the system integrator to ensure that this is achieved, or to achieve a latency below an upper bound that is tighter (lower) than the one mentioned here.

RSS output data (ad::rss::world::AccelerationRestriction)

ad::rss::core::RssCheck::calculateAccelerationRestriction() outputs a structure of type ad::rss::world::AccelerationRestriction. This is a very small structure that contains three ranges of acceleration allowed by RSS:

  • allowable range of longitudinal acceleration,
  • allowable range of lateral acceleration to the left of the vehicle, and
  • allowable range of lateral acceleration to the right of the vehicle.

Each acceleration range consists of two values: a lower bound and an upper bound. The lower bound and upper bound simply specify an interval of allowable acceleration. Note that a negative value of acceleration implies deceleration, i.e. braking.

Output data destination

These three ranges (in ad::rss::world::AccelerationRestriction) are provided to the system that calls the RSS top-level routine, and indicate the range of acceleration that the AD system must ultimately achieve within its respective lane in order to comply to RSS. In other words, if the AD system seeks to comply to the RSS model, it must achieve an acceleration that is within these bounds provided by the RSS function.

Typically, the system would provide the RSS acceleration restriction data to the actuation and control subsystem of the autonomous driving system. This subsystem, external to the RSS library, should enforce the lower and upper bounds of lateral and longitudinal acceleration in respect to the lane provided by the RSS function. Implementation of this process is external to the RSS library, and the system integrator must ensure that this is implemented properly and that RSS output values are used correctly.

Bounds on the output data values

As discussed above, the output values of the RSS function are lower and upper bounds on acceleration. The lower and upper bounds determined by the RSS function originate from the input provided to the RSS function. Namely, acceleration values are provided as dynamics properties of each vehicle acting as road agent/object in the situation. Hence, in the current implementation, the set of possible output data values is a very small set of values that are provided as input.

The output values can be further bounded within absolute lower and upper limits by bounding the input values within those desired limits. Also check the Doxygen documentation of the withinValidInputRange() functions of the respective data types for the actual values defined.

It is the responsibility of the system external to the RSS library to ensure that the acceleration and deceleration actually achieved by the vehicle always remain within the limits calculated by the RSS function, and remain within other limits unrelated to RSS (e.g. physical limits imposed by the vehicle dynamics and the environment).

Bounds on the output data size

The output data of the RSS calculations is a fixed sized structure. As such, the size of the output data is strictly bounded already.

It is the responsibility of the system integrator to determine an appropriate rate or maximum rate at which to invoke the RSS library function.

RSS library code validation


The RSS library has no dependency on any external library (except for the C++ Standard Library and the logging library).

Coding standards

Code quality has been ensured through unit testing.

Unit testing achieved code coverage can be retrieved via github deployment.

Compiler and compiler security flags

The development platforms are Ubuntu Linux 16.04 Xenial and Ubuntu Linux 18.04 Bionic.

A standard cmake toolchain has been used to compile the library. Other supported compilers are listed at the main page

The following, strict, compilation flags are used: C++11, -Werror, -Wall, -Wextra, -pedantic, -Wconversion, -Wsign-conversion, -Wfloat-equal -Wshadow -Wswitch-default -Wenum-compare -Wformat -Wformat-security.

  • -Werror turns all warnings into errors
  • -Wall enables many warnings about code constructs that are questionable
  • -Wextra enables additional warnings not enabled by -Wall
  • -Wconversion warns for implicit conversions (e.g. between integer and real types)
  • -Wsign-conversion warn for implicit conversions that may alter a value
  • -pedantic issues all warnings demanded by strict ISO C and C++
  • -Wfloat-equal warn if floating-point values are used in equality comparisons
  • -Wshadow warn on shadowed variable declarations
  • -Wswitch-default warn if the default case is missing in a switch
  • -Wenum-compare warn about a comparison between values of different enumerated types
  • -Wformat* warns about errors within format strings

In addition, there are hardening compiler flags * -fstack-protector-all -fasynchronous-unwind-tables -fno-omit-frame-pointer -fno-delete-null-pointer-checks -fno-strict-overflow -fwrapv -fPIE -fPIC -D_FORTIFY_SOURCE=2 and linker flags * -Wl,-z,now -Wl,-z,relro -pie defined to harden the resulting binaries. Hardening is disabled by default, as build hardening is usually injected by the surrounding build system.

Compilation with these flags completes without any error or warning.

Code analysis

The code analysis tool cppcheck was run on the library code, and no relevant issues found.

Critical assets

The library does not contain critical assets from a security perspective, other than the library code itself.