has arrived for those worried that their email accounts have been hacked
or that their bank accounts have been compromised. It’s a robot
developed by a University of New Haven student that can check personal
email accounts for hackers and offer advice about cybersecurity.
Known as Ada, the robot has a head that can move, a torso that can turn,
and is colored blue and white. It was developed by Devon Clark of
Branford, who received his B.S. in engineering from UNH in May and is
now a master’s degree student. The robot is named for Ada Lovelace,
considered the first computer programmer for developing the first
algorithm carried out by a machine.
The robot can help people keep their online information private and
demonstrate new trends in cybersecurity, Clark said. “Ada is basically a
computer teaching people about computer safety.”
Ada can sense a person approaching and will react by greeting the
person. Users can choose from eight activities, including reading a
cybersecurity article, taking a quiz, listening to a joke, tweeting a
picture with Ada and checking an email address to see if it has been
hacked. Ada can also teach users about secure passwords and other ways
to keep accounts safe.
The robot was completed as part of an education research initiative at
UNH Cyber Forensics Research and Education Group (UNHcFREG) in the
Tagliatela College of Engineering.
“The project far exceeded what most class projects accomplish,” said
Ibrahim Baggili, assistant dean of engineering and director of CFREG.
“Ada was a time-consuming, high-level engineering project and its
applications are all open source so others can adapt her for other
Baggili said students in the UNHcFREG program are experimenting with
ways that challenge existing methods of doing things. “We thought, why
not use a robot to create awareness on cybersecurity?” he said. “We can
tour the country with it and teach children!”
Clark notes that one can engage in a conversation with Ada by pressing
the microphone button.
“She will interact with you and answer your questions or tell jokes,”
said Clark, who developed the robot as a project for his Introduction to
Computer Security course in the spring. The robot was refined during the
summer and early fall and represents hundreds of hours of work, he said.
“With a little help and a lot of patience, Ada has grown into the fully
functional robot she is today,” Baggili said.
Ada’s brain is an Android tablet running a custom application that
controls her interaction and the things that she says, he said. Ada also
has hardware to control her head movements and a motion sensor to allow
her to turn.
her knowledge of cyber security? That comes from her very own Twitter
account, @Ada_SecuroBot and is updated, Clark said, “by the brainiacs of
the UNH Cyber Forensics Research and Education Group with tips,
articles, RSS feeds, retweets, jokes and more.”
Ada is not Clark’s first robot. He developed one that tends bar -
including mixing drinks - as his senior project.
Another UNH graduate student, Daniel Walnycky of Orange, who has a B.S.
degree in engineering from UNH, developed the interface and the robot’s
The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive
institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education.
Founded in 1920 the university enrolls approximately 1,800 graduate
students and more than 5,000 undergraduates.