Reboot System, Destruction Averted

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It is generally accepted that POST (or Power-On Self-Test) is basically what takes place right after you power-on a system or device. In the 1990s, as part of POST, the BIOS would test the memory. The more memory you had, the longer the test would take. Think a few seconds. Also, POST happens everytime you re-boot the system.

Many movie plots revolve around using a reboot to take back control of their robot or spaceship after it has been infected or to advert imenent distruction. Typically, the protagonist finds a way to reboot the system, which casues the system to take a minute to reboot and destruction is averted.

Would that still work today (in 2017)?

Yes and no. POST happens quickly. In many cases, it only takes a split second before POST completes and the system begins booting to the operating system. So, in this case and depending on how fast the system boots to the operating system, — yes, you could have enough time over-power the robot while it reboots. But then again, only a few seconds… then you’re toast.

However, many operating systems now run in a virtual machine or VM. Many times, there is no way to truly reboot the hardware from the VM. Most VMs that I’ve seen reboot in mere seconds. Imagine a robot that is subseptable to being rebooted to take it down. What if the robot’s operating system had redundant VMs (fail-over, load-balancing and so on)? What if the hardware the VMs are installed on are not only located in the robot? These are all technologies that are in use today and that can be purchased comercially off-the-shelf (COTS). So, maybe the answer is No.

You could remove power, but as soon as power is back, the robot would be in the same state… a state of revenge. Today, systems are advanced enough to even save data in transit. Scary thought. However, this is the kind of technology that may help autonomous vehicles of the future.

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