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ACACIA – Shorten testing processes after changes and updates in flight simulator software


Modern software systems are becoming increasingly complex and are more likely to be assembled from a variety of components originating from third-party developers. Moreover, technology is constantly evolving, and software updates on specific components are frequently necessary. However, in the case of very complex systems such a flight simulator, this simple updating process can mean weeks of testing, in order to verify what impact the new component may have on the whole system. Of course, this testing process is long and expensive, but also essential, especially when such software is used to train our future commercial and military pilots.

It is with this in mind that CAE launched the ACACIA project (Automating Change Impact Analysis in Integration and Testing of Avionics COTS-based System) in 2014, and asked CRIM (Advanced Software Modeling and Development Team) and École Polytechnique to collaborate. This project aims to prove that some behavioral issues in a software system can be detected automatically during a component update.

The system constructed by CRIM is based on model-based testing. The general idea is to build a model that can learn how a flight simulator operates, automatically. From this learning results a knowledge of the system represented through formal models. Then, one can use these formal models to generate tests automatically. These tests enable the detection of potential bugs resulting from a flight simulator component’s change or replacement. Thus, if some operation errors can be detected automatically in a model, engineers can correct them directly and avoid long and expensive periods of manual testing.

Thanks to CRIM’s expertise, the testing phase necessary during flight simulators update processes will be made shorter and more efficient. This type of tool could eventually be used to accelerate the updating process for other types of complex software systems. 

Presentation  [video in French - duration 2:37]

Michel Calibois, software architect at CAE, presented this innovative project in a 180-second formula at the Annual Meeting of CRIM and Prompt held on June 14, 2017.

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