GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – For years, Clemson University researchers have been looking into how they can protect against cyber threats.

“We have to look for adaptive cyber security because the strategy for cyber-attacks will change,” Dr. Mashrur “Ronnie” Chowdhury, the Director of TraCR at Clemson University, explained. “The landscape will change.”

Clemson is now using their work to defend the country’s transportation system. The university recently received a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to create the National Center for Transportation Cybersecurity and Resiliency (TraCR).

At TraCR, researchers will look at how technology in traffic signals, computer chips, and self-driving cars could be compromised by a cyber attack. Researchers will then develop methods and techniques to prevent those attacks.

“We want to develop an ironclad defense against transportation systems,” Chowdhury said.

Clemson’s work caught the attention of U.S. Department of Transportation Chief Scientist Dr. Robert Hampshire, who met with Clemson’s team and toured their I-CAR campus Tuesday.

“The technologies they’re working on are going to keep the country safer,” Hampshire said. “Particularly, as vehicles have more technology in them — more microchips and more communication — we need ways to make sure these systems stay safe.”

Hampshire said Clemson’s work is critical in helping the USDOT protect Americans for the next several generations.

“As the transportation system becomes much more exciting, integrated, and complex with automated vehicles and airplanes, it’s important that those systems are safe,” Hampshire explained. “We plan that in advance. The work Clemson is doing is really going to keep this country safer now but looking towards the future as we have a lot of new exciting technologies that are emerging in the transportation system.”