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Robust Software Engineering To Develop V&V Tools Under New Space Act Agreement With The Air Force Research Lab
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Robust Software Engineering To Develop V&V Tools Under New Space Act Agreement With The Air Force Research Lab

NASA Ames and the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) have signed a Space Act Agreement to collaborate on tools for the Verification and Validation (V&V) of flight-critical systems. At NASA Ames, the tools are being developed by the Robust Software Engineering (RSE) group 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 the AFRL, the tools and case studies are being developed by the Autonomous Control Branch.

This collaboration will allow the exchange of information between the AFRL and NASA Ames on their current safety assurance programs, facilitate the use of NASA V&V tools at AFRL, and vice versa, and facilitate access to realistic case studies (which may be traditional avionic systems or advanced autonomous systems). The overarching goal is to help NASA develop tools that can significantly reduce the cost of V&V for flight-critical systems, such as flight-management and flight-control systems. These systems play a critical role in aviation since they are directly responsible for the safe operation of aircraft.

This Space Act Agreement will allow NASA to deliver V&V tools, like CoCoSim, SeaHorn, and the Inference Kernel for Open Static analyzers (IKOS), which can verify design models (Simulink or the Safety-Critical Application Development Environment - SCADE) as well as (the possibly automatically) generated C/C++ code. The AFRL is also interested in using the Assurance Case Automation ToolsEt (AdvoCATE) tool developed in RSE. AdvoCATE facilitates the creation of safety cases for flight-critical applications. Under this program, RSE will also guide AFRL researchers on the use of compositional verification techniques for scaling the use of formal methods for V&V of flight-critical systems.

The technical point of contact at NASA Ames is Dr. Guillaume Brat, Area Lead for Robust Software Engineering in the Intelligent Systems Division. The point of contact at AFRL is Jonathan Hoffman, in the Autonomous Control Branch.

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, we draw upon automated reasoning, model checking, static analysis, symbolic evaluation, and machine learning and then apply these techniques to the verification and validation of software, as well as code generation. Technologies we have developed include automated software analysis, automated test case generation, reliable code generation, and risk prediction and analysis.

A Space Act Agreement (SAA) 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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