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Workshop on Assurance Cases With Panel on Safety of Autonomy Held on September 20th
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Workshop on Assurance Cases With Panel on Safety of Autonomy Held on September 20th

The Fourth International Workshop on Assurance Cases for Software-intensive Systems (ASSURE 2016) was held on September 20th, 2016, in conjunction with the International Conference on Computer Safety, Reliability, and Security (SafeComp) in Trondheim, Norway. ASSURE 2016 was co-organized by Ewen Denney and Ganesh Pai of the Intelligent System Division’s Robust Software Engineering research area, along with Ibrahim Habli of the University of York, England. Over 30 participants attended, split roughly between the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

Assurance cases are structured arguments that connect dependability and safety claims to supporting evidence. Several certification standards and guidelines, e.g., in the defense, transportation (aviation, automotive, rail), and healthcare domains now recommend or mandate the development of assurance cases for software-intensive systems. ASSURE 2016 aimed to provide an international forum for high-quality research, practice, and position papers on the application of assurance case principles and techniques for software assurance, and on the treatment of assurance cases as artifacts to which the full range of software engineering techniques can be applied.

The program committee consisted of leading researchers in the area and several industrial practitioners. Accepted papers covered broad areas of safety lifecycles, formal evidence and tool support, and practical applications. The program included a keynote talk by Clive Tomsett, Clinical Strategist at the Cerner Corporation, on "Rhetoric or Rigor: The Development and Use of Safety Cases in Health IT".

The program also included tool demonstrations, as well as a panel discussion on "Assurance Challenges for Safety-critical Autonomous Systems", chaired by Ganesh Pai. Panelists comprised academics and practitioners from maritime and insurance industries. Panelists presented position statements addressing various concerns relevant for autonomy including dependability, verification, and associated technical challenges. The panel chair and audience then posed questions addressing issues such as the sufficiency of existing engineering techniques for safety assurance, opportunities in addressing emergent behavior, and the scope for regulatory change.

BACKGROUND: Ewen Denney and Ganesh Pai are developing the Assurance Case Automation ToolsEt (AdvoCATE) toolset for the principled application of argument-based assurance to aviation problems, such as safety assurance and airworthiness certification. They have applied their methodology and are currently contributing to the development of safety assurance cases for a ground-based detect-and-avoid capability, in support of the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) technical challenge. In the past, they also developed the safety case for beyond visual line of sight UAS operations in support of the Marginal Ice Zone Observations and Processes EXperiment (MIZOPEX) Earth science mission.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Safe Autonomous Systems Operations (SASO) project, Airspace Operations and Safety Program (AOSP)


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