Chetan Mittal
Chetan Mittal Dev - Tech Blog


Chetan Mittal Dev - Tech Blog


Industrial Automation Made Safer with Rust

This article explores how Rust enhances reliability and security in industrial automation

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Chetan Mittal
·May 22, 2023·

4 min read

Industrial Automation Made Safer with Rust
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Table of contents

  • Problem
  • Leveraging Memory Safety
  • Concurrency Made Easy
  • Robust Error Handling
  • Example
  • Conclusion

In the world of industrial automation, the reliability and security of software are of utmost importance.

As a software programmer currently learning Rust to build embedded systems for industrial automation, I would like to introduce you to the incredible capabilities of Rust and how it can transform the way we build these automation systems.

In this article, we will explore how Rust's memory safety and concurrency features work together to minimize risks, downtime, and vulnerabilities, ensuring smooth and secure operations.


When it comes to traditional programming languages like C and C++; they offer low-level control and high performance, but they also come with their own set of challenges.

Memory corruption, data races, and undefined behavior are common pitfalls that can have severe consequences in industrial automation systems, compromising safety, causing downtime, and creating security vulnerabilities.

This is where Rust comes to the rescue.

Leveraging Memory Safety

One of the standout features of Rust is its strong focus on memory safety.

Rust's ownership model eliminates many common programming errors that can lead to crashes or security breaches.

Every value in Rust has a single owner, and the ownership is transferred explicitly, preventing unexpected modifications or concurrent access to memory.

This ensures that the system remains stable and secure.

Rust also enforces strict borrowing rules, which means that the compiler analyzes the code at compile-time to ensure that references and borrows are always valid.

This eliminates the possibility of dangling pointers and null references, reducing the likelihood of runtime errors.

Concurrency Made Easy

Industrial automation systems often require concurrent execution of multiple tasks and efficient coordination of various components.

Rust provides powerful concurrency abstractions that make it easier to handle parallelism effectively.

With Rust's built-in support for threads, channels, and locks, we can express concurrent behavior explicitly, ensuring that data shared between threads is protected by default.

Rust's compiler actively detects potential data races, helping us identify and eliminate them early in the development process.

Additionally, Rust's concurrency model allows for safe and efficient communication between threads through channels, which act as synchronized message-passing mechanisms.

This helps prevent data races and ensures that threads can communicate reliably and without data corruption.

Robust Error Handling

In complex automation environments, errors are inevitable.

Rust's robust error-handling mechanism allows us to handle and recover from errors in a controlled manner, promoting fault tolerance and system resilience.

With Rust's Result and Option types, we are encouraged to handle errors explicitly, reducing the chances of unchecked errors that can destabilize the system.

The language's support for pattern matching and exhaustive match statements further facilitates comprehensive error handling, enabling us to cover all possible error scenarios.


Here's an example in Rust that demonstrates the use of memory safety and concurrency features in the context of industrial automation:

use std::thread;
use std::sync::{Arc, Mutex};

// Define a struct representing a sensor reading
struct SensorReading {
    sensor_id: u32,
    value: f64,

// Function to simulate sensor reading
fn read_sensor(sensor_id: u32, shared_data: Arc<Mutex<Vec<SensorReading>>>) {
    // Simulate sensor reading and add it to the shared data vector
    let reading = SensorReading {
        value: 42.0, // Simulated sensor reading value

    // Lock the shared data using the mutex
    let mut data = shared_data.lock().unwrap();

    // Add the reading to the shared data vector

fn main() {
    // Create shared data using an Arc and Mutex
    let shared_data = Arc::new(Mutex::new(Vec::<SensorReading>::new()));

    // Create multiple threads to simulate sensor readings concurrently
    let num_sensors = 5;
    let mut threads = Vec::new();

    for sensor_id in 0..num_sensors {
        let shared_data = Arc::clone(&shared_data);

        // Spawn a thread to read the sensor
        let thread = thread::spawn(move || {
            read_sensor(sensor_id, shared_data);


    // Wait for all threads to finish
    for thread in threads {

    // Print the collected sensor readings
    let data = shared_data.lock().unwrap();

    for reading in &*data {
        println!("Sensor {}: {}", reading.sensor_id, reading.value);

In the above example code, I have defined a struct called SensorReading to represent a sensor reading with an ID and a value.

The function read_sensor simulates a sensor reading and adds it to a shared data vector, which I have protected using a Mutex wrapped in an Arc (atomic reference count) to enable concurrent access.

In the main function, I have created multiple threads, with each thread representing a sensor.

By using Arc::clone, I have passed the shared data to each thread. These threads simulate sensor readings concurrently by calling the read_sensor function.

After the threads have finished, I acquire a lock on the shared data using the Mutex and iterate over the collected sensor readings to print them.

This code example demonstrates how Rust ensures memory safety through the use of a Mutex to protect shared data, allowing for safe concurrent access.

The ownership model and borrowing rules in Rust prevent multiple threads from unexpectedly modifying or accessing the same memory concurrently, effectively preventing data races.


Rust is a game-changer in the field of industrial automation.

Its memory safety and concurrency features address the challenges faced by traditional languages, ensuring the reliability, security, and efficiency of industrial automation systems.

By adopting Rust, we can minimize risks, eliminate common vulnerabilities, and build software that operates smoothly and securely in complex industrial environments.

Along with industrial automation, there are many other use cases where Rust can be used to develop Robust software solutions such as IoT, Embedded, Robotics, etc.

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