Boosting the velocity of development in the early project phases with suitable test methods saves time and money
For some time, TechSAT has been working with the ambitious C919 CDS development project for a Chinese customer. Together the two have faced the challenge of adhering to an almost impossible schedule. It was therefore decided to start verification in parallel to model development.
All the measures described here were taken to accelerate the development to a maximum, right from the start.
Through rigorous test drive development, automated data processing and parallel use of 15 Model Development and Verification Systems (MDVS) plus five Single Device Integration Benches (SDIB), it was possible to create a complete, integrated CDS prototype within nine months.
Later, two Full System Integration Benches (FSIB) will be available for further integration and verification.
The abundance of literature relating to procedure models certainly does not call for yet another V-model. Nevertheless it is apparent that the vast number of projects still do not reach their goals as planned.
Over the past few years, the company TechSAT has been increasingly involved in development projects for its customers. It has had to evolve from a mere supplier of test systems to a partner for the entire development cycle. Consequently the company has devised a wide range of solutions for customers that help accelerate and secure the development process. People working in system development learn early on in their career that errors found late in the development process can be expensive and even disastrous.
This means that clients need help to identify potential problems as early as possible. Although proven methods for this purpose have been around for a long time, such as requirements for engineering and system modeling, most customers are not satisfied with the results achieved so far.
Coming from a background in systems testing, it was only logical for TechSAT to look for ways to implement verification measures right from the beginning of the project’s requirement and design phases. Because the symbol for initial velocity is V0 it was applied – as a play on words – to V-models.
From recent discussions with the company’s clients, it became clear that many are searching for a partner to take them through their development projects. At the same time, they shy away from the effort it would take to find the right support for each of the phases.
For this reason, TechSAT has built up a network of specialists and tool providers, enabling the company to massively scale its portfolio of test system solutions, customized tools and consulting expertise, and adapt it to the needs of its customers. For each project, the company jointly developed the optimum solution for services, tools and test systems.
TechSAT is known for its test systems, I/O boards, and tools for the aerospace industry.
Two major trends are on the horizon. As a manufacturer of test systems and tools, the company is having to develop the technology requirements for test environments itself or in cooperation with customer representatives.
The times when customers composed their own test systems from a technology platform are definitely over.
The second major trend is the need to supply customers with integrated solutions suitable for the start of a development project.
To this end, the company has scaled down its ADS2 platform for use on small systems and can now offer it as a dynamic test platform supplementing the development host, turning it into an integrated model development and verification system.
The next stage of test systems is the Single Device Integration Bench (MAYA-SDIB). It is software-to-software and hardware-to-software integration at the equipment level.
The MAYA concept is complemented by software and hardware simulators as well as equipment prototyping.
Excellent development tools are available on the market that combine engineering and design in an integrated system. These tools provide host-based simulations and analysis capabilities, but are usually limited to a single application. In dynamic testing or application intercommunication testing, however, they often reach their limits.
When moving from the host to the target platform, at the very least, discontinuities will appear in the testing environment. The user must therefore be provided with the testing solutions that integrate seamlessly with the engineering and design tools and simultaneously also be supported with automated test systems.
TechSAT can accomplish this continuity, as requested by its customers, by using its ADS2- based technology platform. As a logical consequence, a target simulation for the first development steps is provided. This ADS2 virtual target simulation (e.g. for VxWorks 653) is integrated into ADS2 and supports, for instance, dynamic tests between applications on the development host. The applications can therefore use the communication calls or shared memory accesses of the target platform unchanged.
For the next development steps, a target simulator and a test system of the MAYA family are supplied. The target simulator is a small real-time system, which in addition to the target simulation, running on ADS2, also offers I/O support (ARINC 664, ARINC 429, CAN, MIL1553, Discrete, etc.).
The target simulator enables testing of both the inter-process communication and the real I/O transfer of the application. With the attached test systems of the MAYA family, the additional possibility arises to create the test procedures for the software-to-software and hardware-to-software integration and test their functionality as early as the development phase.
Therefore, by using model-based development tools with a built-in code generator, development times can be greatly reduced because customers have and can test executable code during the model development phase. Any change in the model can be directly tested in this way.
In addition to the increase in development speed at the start of the project, the main advantage lies in the reduction of development risks.
Many more errors were found during the project phases in which error correction did not actually increase costs.
Another advantage is that from very early on, information is gathered for system integration and verification. Verification can therefore be managed far more comprehensively and test environments can be set up to be far more efficient. Additionally the design-to-test methodology is much better supported.
At this point the additional measures for development support carry a positive effect right through to the formal verification processes. These measures come under the term ‘boosting V0’. The numerous but consistent individual measures that are offered as part of a development agreement ultimately allow TechSAT’s clients to save a lot of time and money with their development projects.