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Robust Software Engineering Researchers Win International System Safety Conference Best Paper Award
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Robust Software Engineering Researchers Win International System Safety Conference Best Paper Award

Ewen Denney and Ganesh Pai, both members of the Robust Software Engineering (RSE) technical area, co-authored a technical paper titled "A Methodology for the Development of Assurance Arguments for Unmanned Aircraft Systems," which was honored with a Best Paper Award at the 33rd International System Safety Conference (ISSC). This year’s ISSC was held in San Diego, California, from August 23-27. This was the pair’s first-ever submission to the ISSC series, and the paper won the honor over 50 other submissions. ISSC is attended by system safety professionals and researchers. Submissions to the conference span the theory and practice of systems, software, and human-factors safety in a variety of safety-critical domains, including aviation and aerospace, defense, transportation, and energy. Conference attendees and speakers represented a number of government organizations, such as NASA, branches of the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy; industrial entities, including Sikorsky Aircraft, BAE Systems, Boeing, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman; and academic/research organizations.

BACKGROUND: A key requirement when obtaining regulatory authorization to conduct certain kinds of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operations in civil airspace (e.g., beyond line-of-sight and over congested areas) is to create and submit a safety case. Central to modern safety cases is the notion of argument, i.e., an explicit chain of reasoning linking the required safety-substantiating evidence to the overall safety objectives and assertions. The paper presents a methodology for the principled development of structured arguments, supporting both top-down and bottom-up argument-development approaches using the Goal Structuring Notation (GSN) to present the arguments created, and leveraging the Assurance Case Automation ToolsEt (AdvoCATE - also being engineered by Ewen Denney and Ganesh Pai) for automation support. The methodology presented in the paper extends their prior work on a lightweight approach for assembling safety arguments from the artifacts of an integrated systems and safety engineering process for small UAS. The development of the methodology was informed from the creation of a real safety case for UAS operations in Alaska and is being applied for subsequent safety-case development activities, including safety assurance within the UAS Traffic Management (UTM) project.

PROGRAM FUNDING: Airspace Operations and Safety Program (AOSP) and the Integrated Systems Research Program (ISRP), Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD)

POC: Ganesh Pai, ganesh.pai@nasa.gov

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