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NASA and Boeing to Work Together on Verification and Validation Technology for Autonomy
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NASA and Boeing to Work Together on Verification and Validation Technology for Autonomy

The NASA Aeronautics Mission Directorate (ARMD) is planning to step up its aviation industry software Verification and Validation (V&V) technology infusion effort with a close collaboration with Boeing research under the new System-Wide Safety (SWS) project. This effort will kickoff in fiscal year ’18 under the Airspace Operations and Safety Program (AOSP).

The Robust Software Engineering (RSE) group at NASA Ames Research Center is establishing a collaboration with Boeing’s Research and Technology Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to address software and system assurance for flight-critical systems for transport aircraft, as well as for future autonomous systems. The collaboration focuses on the topics of automated safety assurance, autonomy V&V, early-in-design V&V tools (from requirements to code), and modeling and analysis of human-autonomy interactions. NASA tools and techniques will be used by Boeing researchers to enhance their own processes in model-based development and autonomous aircraft design.

The ultimate goal of this collaboration is to transfer NASA tools to Boeing and help Boeing customize the tools for the needs of their business units. The NASA tools involved include the Assurance Case Automation Tool sEt (AdvoCATE, which helps in creating and inspecting safety and assurance cases for aviation), CoCoSim (which enables early-in-design V&V on Simulink models), the Inference Kernel for Open Static Analyzers (IKOS, which performs static code analysis for C and C++ code), and FRET (which enables developers to define requirements using natural language patterns and formalize them for automated analysis). Some of the NASA tools have already been transferred to industry. For instance, United Technology is already making use of the IKOS static analyzer; Rockwell Collins is working on integrating the CoCoSim analyzer into their suite of tools to perform early V&V on design models; the AdvoCATE tool set has been used to perform safety cases for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for deployment of autonomous systems; and Honeywell is also asking for early access to the FRET tools to manage their requirements.

BACKGROUND: The collaboration with Boeing will be done under a Space Act Agreement, which will allow NASA And Boeing to exchange information that will be used to ensure that the NASA tools can scale and be effective on aviation products. For example, Boeing will share information on the use of Simulink, Stateflow, and MATLAB constructs in their design models. This information is critical in getting a tool like CoCoSim to be useful to developers in industry. Boeing will also inform NASA in their use of machine learning and adaptive control technologies so that NASA can develop the next generation of V&V tools customized for autonomous systems. The Space Act Agreement will ensure that Intellectual Property (IP) is protected for both parties and provide a formal framework for effective collaborative work.

POINT OF CONTACT: Guillaume Brat,; Huafong Yu (Boeing)

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