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Robust Software Engineering To Develop V&V Tools Under New Space Act Agreement With General Electric
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Robust Software Engineering To Develop V&V Tools Under New Space Act Agreement With General Electric

On May 24th 2016, NASA and General Electric (GE) Global Research have finalized the signature of a Space Act Agreement (SAA) to collaborate on methods and tools for the Verification and Validation (V&V) of flight critical systems. The agreement covers work done at NASA Ames and NASA Langley under the Shadow Mode Assessments using Realistic Technologies for the National Air Space (SMART-NAS) project in the Airspace Operations and Safety (AOSP) program. At NASA Ames, the tools are being developed by the Robust Software Engineering (RSE) group, led by Dr. Guillaume Brat; while at NASA Langley, the research is being led by Dr. Paul Miner. At GE, tools and case studies are being developed by the Validation & Verification Research Portfolio team, led by Mike Durling.

Based on discussions with NASA over the last five years, GE Global Research has been developing a research program to reduce their V&V costs when developing embedded systems for a wide range of markets. Their goal is to infuse these tools in their product teams. For example, their prototype for formalizing the creation and management of requirements (including traceability all the way to testing) is being used by more than 400 engineers at GE. The SAA with NASA will help them get access to NASA formal method tools, which can complement their portfolio. For instance, they are currently looking at using the CoCoSim model-checking tool developed in the Robust Software Engineering group at NASA Ames. CoCoSim can help them be more efficient and scalable in the automatic generation of test cases to cover requirements, and thus help them meet Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification standards at a lower cost.

NASA will benefit from this agreement by having an easier infusion path for the tools and methods addressing safety assurance for flight-critical systems, as well as easier access to real industrial case studies. The collaboration with GE will focus solely on GE’s aviation products. This agreement will help ensure that NASA is addressing real issues in aviation. This SAA will be especially beneficial to the Robust Software Engineering group, which is developing tools that could readily fit in the tool suite envisioned by GE. The collaboration will focus first on tools that work at the design level (CoCoSim for Simulink models), code level (the Inference Kernel for Open Static analyzers - IKOS, and the SeaHorn static analyzer) and safety case technology. Under this program, RSE will also advise GE researchers on the use of compositional verification techniques for scaling the use of formal methods for V&V of flight-critical systems.

The technical POCs for this effort are Dr. Guillaume Brat, Area Lead for Robust Software Engineering in the Intelligent Systems Division at NASA Ames; Dr. Paul Miner, NASA Langley; and Mike Durling, GE Global Research. In the future, NASA is hoping to develop similar relationships with other actors in the aviation industry.

BACKGROUND: The overarching goal of the Robust Software Engineering area of the Intelligent Systems Division is to dramatically increase the reliability and robustness of NASA's mission-related software, and the productivity of its software engineering, through the research, development, application, and transfer of automated software engineering technologies that scale to meet NASA's software challenges. RSE utilizes many techniques from computer science. For example, for program verification, RSE draws upon automated reasoning, model checking, static analysis, symbolic evaluation, and machine learning, and then applies these techniques to the verification and validation of software, as well as code generation. Technologies RSE has developed include automated software analysis, automated test case generation, reliable code generation, and risk prediction and analysis. A Space Act Agreement is a type of legal agreement specified in the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 (and subsequent congressional authorizations) that uniquely empowers NASA to work with any entity that enables fulfillment of the Administration's mandate.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Shadow Mode Assessments using Realistic Technologies for the National Air Space (SMART-NAS) project, Airspace Operations and Safety (AOSP) program, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD)

POINT OF CONTACT: Guillame Brat, guillame.p.brat@nasa.gov

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