Axo: Masking Delay Faults in Real-Time Control Systems

We consider real-time control systems that consist of a controller that computes and sends setpoints to be implemented in physical processes through process agents. We focus on systems that use commercial off-the-shelf hardware and software components. Setpoints of these systems have strict real-time constraints: Implementing a setpoint after its deadline, or not receiving setpoints within a deadline, can cause failure. In this paper, we address delay faults: faults that cause setpoints to violate their real-time constraints. We present Axo, a fault-tolerance protocol that guarantees safety and improves availability for a class of such systems that exhibit two main properties: the setpoints must have a known validity horizon, and process agents must be capable of handling duplicate setpoints. To reason about delay faults, and consequently design Axo, we present an abstraction of a controller; the abstraction applies to a wide range of real-time control systems. We prove guarantees of safety and availability. Finally, we present an implementation of Axo and the results of the tests performed with Commelec, a real-time control system for electric grids.

Presented at:
The 42nd Annual Conference of IEEE Industrial Electronics Society, Florence, Italy, October 24-27, 2016

 Record created 2016-06-26, last modified 2018-01-28

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