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Issue No. 05 - September/October (1998 vol. 13)
ISSN: 1541-1672
pp: 45-49
In the realm of space exploration, the biggest obstacle to widespread application of autonomy in flight software is not technical feasibility; it is doubt about its trustworthiness as a replacement for human-in-the-loop decision-making. Autonomous control systems raise difficult verification and validation issues because, unlike conventional sequencer-based open-loop systems that perform transactions visible through uplink and downlink communications, they close many control loops and arbitrate many resources onboard with specialized reasoning in multiple concurrent threads. V&V techniques are needed that significantly increase confidence in these decision-making control systems. This article shows two ways of applying analytic verification: at design time using model checking to guarantee that specific conditions are never violated, and at runtime using embedded behavior auditors to verify that the implemented integrated system respects similar conditions. This approach suggests two changes in software-development practice: modeling the high-level design formally enough to enable model checking through tools such as Spin, and codeveloping operational code along with auditor specifications.

M. Lowry and D. Dvorak, "Analytic Verification of Flight Software," in IEEE Intelligent Systems, vol. 13, no. , pp. 45-49, 1998.
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