Autonomy Software: V& V Challenges and Characteristics
2006 IEEE Aerospace Conference
The successful operation of unmanned air vehicles requires software with a high degree of autonomy. Only if high level functions can be carried out without human control and intervention can complex missions, in a changing and potentially unknown environment, be carried out successfully. Autonomy software is highly mission and safety critical: failures, caused by flaws in the software cannot only jeopardize the mission, but could also endanger human life (e.g., a crash of an UAV in a densely
... UAV in a densely populated area). Due to its large size, complex architecture, and use of specialized algorithms (planners, constraint-solvers, etc.), autonomy software poses specific challenges for its verification, validation, and certification. We have carried out a survey among researchers and scientists at NASA to study these issues. In this paper, we will present major results of this study, discussing the broad spectrum of notions and characteristics of autonomy software and its challenges for design and development. A main focus of this survey was to evaluate verification and validation (V&V) issues and challenges, compared to the development of "traditional" safety-critical software. We will discuss important issues in V&V of autonomous software and advanced V&V tools which can help to mitigate software risks. Results of this survey will help to identify and understand safety concerns in autonomy software and will lead to improved strategies for mitigation of these risks.