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Funding awarded to investigate testing of complex cyber-physical systems

Press release issued: 29 June 2016

T&VS, a leader in the software test and hardware verification domains, will work with the University of Bristol to develop new engineering methods to test software that controls cyber-physical systems (CPS) thanks to funding from Innovate UK.

Developers of CPS have recognised that the current Software Verification and Validation techniques will not cope as CPS become increasingly complex. Hardware verification faced a similar issue 20 years ago and developed new verification techniques to overcome this. Those techniques are now widely adopted and hardware developers are able to verify increasingly complex designs so that they reach the market in a timely fashion and are able to function sufficiently for the target market.

Test and Verification Solutions Ltd (T&VS), who are leading the project, will work with the University of Bristol and end user CPS developers - Thales, Dyson and SCISYS - to better understand how to apply those hardware techniques to the verification of software for CPS.

Mike Bartley, CEO and Founder of T&VS, said: "Cyber physical systems will start to touch every part of our life. From robotic vacuum cleaners and online orders delivered by drone, to autonomous cars. Ensuring such systems are fully tested and safe to use can be both expensive and time consuming and consequently a potential barrier to market entry. The project will investigate if techniques successfully adopted in hardware design verification can be adapted to work with complex software."

The involvement of end users Thales, Dyson and SCISYS is a key to the potential success of the project. All three are developing CPS and have identified testing as a major technical challenge. They will be defining requirements for tooling to enable them to deploy the hardware verification concepts to their respective CPS. T&VS will be developing the tools that the end users will trial to test their CPS.

The University of Bristol has recently developed novel model-based test generation techniques to target specific use cases or requirements far more effectively than conventional methods can. How to apply these techniques to complex real-world CPS will be investigated as part of this collaborative project.

Dr Kerstin Eder, Reader in Design Automation and Verification in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Bristol and leader of the verification and validation for safety in robots research theme at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, added: "Model Based Test Generation techniques can significantly improve verification productivity. Achieving coverage closure faster and in an automated fashion saves engineering effort in practice. This project will enrich the University's research in various ways: it brings new understanding of practical requirements into the University to drive new research; it provides access to real-world use cases; it helps us foster strong and lasting links to industrial partners that work at the leading edge of autonomous systems engineering and verification tool development. The knowledge and technology transfer in this collaboration is an excellent route to impact for our research." 

Further information

About TVS
T&VS (Test and Verification Solutions Ltd) provides services and products to organisations developing complex products in the microelectronics and embedded systems industries.  Such organisations use T&VS to verify their hardware and software products, employ industry best practice and manage peaks in development and testing programmes.  T&VS’ embedded software testing services includes onsite/offshore testing support including assistance with safety certification and security testingT&VS hardware verification services include onsite/offshore verification support and training in advanced verification methodologies.  TVS also offers Verification IPs and its own Verification (EDA) signoff tool

About Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL)
Bristol Robotics Laboratory is the leading and largest academic centre for multi-disciplinary robotics research in the UK. It is a collaborative partnership between the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), and home to a vibrant community of over 100 academics and industry practitioners, which lead current thinking in service robotics, intelligent autonomous systems and bio-engineering.

About Innovate UK
Innovate UK is the new name for the Technology Strategy Board – the UK’s innovation agency. Taking a new idea to market is a challenge. Innovate UK funds, supports and connects innovative businesses through a unique mix of people and programmes to accelerate sustainable economic growth.

Key publications:
Dejanira Araiza-Illan, David Western, Anthony Pipe and Kerstin Eder. Coverage-Driven Verification — An Approach to Verify Code for Robots that Directly Interact with Humans. In Hardware and Software: Verification and Testing, pp. 69-84. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 9434. Springer, November 2015. (DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-26287-1_5)

Dejanira Araiza-Illan, David Western, Anthony Pipe and Kerstin Eder. Systematic and Realistic Testing in Simulation of Control Code for Robots in Collaborative Human-Robot Interactions. 17th Annual Conference Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems (TAROS 2016), pp. 20-32. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 9716. Springer, June 2016. (DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-40379-3_3)

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