An Integrated Safety-Security Approach

for engineering Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)

traffic management solutions

A project by Advanced Digital Sciences Centre (ADSC) and Nova Systems

In collaboration with Critical Systems Labs, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and NSHC

Seed Grant, ADSC and Nova Systems


From delivery to surveillance, various applications of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), or drones, are taking off globally. There is an urgent need to develop UAS Traffic Management (UTM) systems to manage such growth. With Singapore’s dense and complex urban environment, a success in managing UAS here will position Singapore as an important participant in the global UTM market.

UTM systems need to be both safe (i.e., it won’t endanger human and environment) and secure (i.e., it won’t be abused by attackers). It is challenging to systematically align these two aspects in the engineering process of such a complex system.

This project took an integrated approach to study the safety-security design issues of UTM systems.


The study identified a set of important accidents and hazards related to UTM systems and compiled a representative list of critical control actions in UTM systems and their corresponding unsafe/unsecure control actions.

Two critical subsystems, namely, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)-to-ground communication system and the UAV on-board flight control system, were selected as case studies. The study examined multiple intentional and unintentional scenarios in these two subsystems that can lead to hazards and potential accidents, based on the implementation of the open-source dronecode project.

Based on the study, the team made concrete observations about design issues and gave pragmatic recommendations to mitigate the risks.

The benefits of an integrated safety-security approach demonstrated here could be applied to other safety-critical domains (e.g., autonomous vehicles) as well.

News Release (Nova Systems)
News Release (ADSC)