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Ames Research Center Releases Robust Software Engineering's AdaStress Software via Open Source
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Ames Research Center Releases Robust Software Engineering's AdaStress Software via Open Source

On February 14, 2022, the AdaStress software was released under the NASA Open-Source Agreement license. AdaStress implements and extends the Adaptive Stress Testing (AST) framework, which leverages reinforcement learning to find and analyze the likeliest failures in autonomous and safety-critical systems.

By incorporating feedback into its exploration, AST can be significantly more efficient than traditional sample-based approaches to stress testing, without relying on domain knowledge to expedite the search. This makes AdaStress an attractive tool for independent verification and validation, as it does not operate with a bias towards expected failure modes. AdaStress can also perform efficient stress testing on black-box systems, including those that are remote and unable to be shared directly for reasons of security, privacy, or convenience. In these cases, the stress testing protocol can “anonymize” system behavior, allowing computational infrastructure to be used for stress testing without revealing the underlying failure modes of the system under test.

BACKGROUND: The AST framework was developed by Ritchie Lee during his PhD work under the supervision of Professor Mykel Kochenderfer. It uses reinforcement learning to explore likely failures in simulated systems. It has seen success in numerous applications, including the validation of aircraft collision avoidance systems, pedestrian avoidance for self-driving cars, autonomous vision-based taxiing, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) navigation through dense foliage. AdaStress implements the existing AST framework and provides new experimental tools to extend its capabilities as well as example problems to facilitate research.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: System-Wide Safety (SWS) project, Airspace Operations and Safety Program (AOSP), Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD)

TEAM: Adrian Agogino, Ritchie Lee, and Rory Lipkis.

POINT OF CONTACT: Adrian Agogino,

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