As a member of the UK Institute of Engineering and Technology, and a keen science fiction fan, it is always great fun when I see mention of advanced robotics applications in space!
This month sees the article by Piers Bizony on "Robonaut flies in". This is a great article outlining the mission on the NASA Robonaut. Robonaut was included in NASA's STS-133 payload for testing on the International Space Station.
Wind River has been working with NASA on many space missions (See Mike Deliman's Blog), and this mission is no exception. Robonaut is running VxWorks on PowerPC based embedded systems at the "heart" of its control system.
One interesting aspect of the article is the discussion of safety. Safety, as we know, has many aspects and possible solutions. For industrial robots, anything that impacts safety is usually mitigated by shutting down the system to prevent further damage or harm. For Avionics systems involved in flight controls this of course would be a bad thing and the safety argument has to allow for continued aircraft operation after such an impact.
Robonaut in this respect has an additional challenge, it has to figure out if sensor readings mean it was supposed to interact with it's fellow astronauts or if they are a safety issue, and then act accordingly.
In actual fact, Robonaut is semi-autonomous as the article goes on to describe, with a Human operator controlling and "sensing" what Robonaut is doing - much like an Avatar - the control and feedback here is critical and hence the use of VxWorks as the trusted foundation for its control system.
There is also a really interesting side panel article on use of Robonaut for a moon landing, with the human operator on the ground, where an additional challenge is the 1s delay in signal transmission from the command and feedback signals! This mission was also covered by Business Insider with the headline "NASA Will Save $149.5 Billion Sending A Robot Instead Of A Human To The Moon
This reminds me of another film I saw recently with Bruce Willis, Surrogates, I wonder if this is the beginning of a new era??
Congratulations go out to Airbus, Boeing and all of their worldwide suppliers!
Our man on the ground at Paine Field, Everett is Chip Downing, Director of A&D Business Development and he managed to send us this excellent video of the event!
It will be interesting to follow these two aircraft as they go through their respective flight testing and enter service!
On the Avionics side, the 787 Dreamliner is the result of collaboration between Boeing and its suppliers to integrate multiple applications at different safety levels on the Common Core System. This strategy of avionics development follows the RTCA DO-297 role based development concept, allowing each application developer to work independently of each other and provide the necessary safeguards for the systems integrator to bring this all together in the final configuration for this historic first flight.
The independence of each application is fundamental to allowing them to be designed, developed , and tested in isolation. DO-297 provides guidelines for each role in building the safety case for the aircraft, and by having these independent “components” the applications can be tested in isolation before being tested as part of the final system. This save a considerable amount of time and effort in software testing terms and provides a solid foundation for the final system integration tests.
As part of the work to develop the 787 Dreamliner, Wind River worked with the team to expand and develop the ARINC 653 XML schema. The schema was originally provided as an example of how you might use XML for ARINC 653 systems configuration, but had a lot of missing links and cross-referenced information that made it all but impossible to use on a large scale systems such as the 787. The modified XML schema is now being adopted as part of Supplement 3 to ARINC 653 Part 1, in order for the benefits it provides to be shared in the Avionics community on future projects – this is what open standards are all about!
The backbone of the Common Core System is Wind River’s VxWorks 653 Platform. This includes the VxWorks 653 RTOS provides the fundamental components needed to build such a system based on the ARINC 653 standard. Wind River launched the safety critical version of VxWorks in 1999 for federated avionics, and followed on with VxWorks 653 in 2003 for Integrated Modular Avionics. As a COTS Software supplier to many industries, we wanted to develop the DO-178B Level A certification evidence for VxWorks 653 as a COTS solution, so that our customers could benefit from not having to re-certify the OS every time it was used. We came up with a unique hyperlinked DVD with our partners Verocel that allows customers to have a copy of all the safety related material in a fully traceable format that helps them to build the systems safety case. Included in this material are not only all of the safety related documents that need to be provided to the authority (such as PSAC, SAS etc) but also the software development folded, including all VxWorks 653 source code, test code and test coverage results.
Previous Press Releases from Wind River for these aircraft include:
Technorati Tags: 787, A400M, Airbus, Alex Wilson, ARINC 653, Avionics, Boeing, CCS, Chip Downing, Common Core System, DO-178B, DO-297, Dreamliner, EADS, Indra Sistemas, Software Development, Verocel, Wind River
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I was interested in this release as the product addresses a lot of the concerns and challenges we are facing in this difficult time. If you have been following the reports coming out of the Paris Airshow, you will have seen many signs of the economic problems facing the commercial airline industry and the hope that the defence industry carries us through to new economic growth.
One of the challenges facing the Aerospace and Defence industry along with many other industries is how to provide increased functionality to its customers, whilst at the same time preserving the safety and security of the system. A good example of this being the EADS Advanced UAV, which has a fully autonomous system for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions).
VxWorks MILS provides our customers with a platform that allows them to isolate and at the same time integrate this capability into a system, and then evaluate the system to the Common Criteria (and DO-178B) to prove its security.
The cost saving is immense when you consider not only the cost of the evaluation itself – the MILS seminar at The Open Group estimated the cost for evaluation of a MILS kernel to be around $5M – but also the cost of re-evaluation to incorporate technology refresh and protection from obsolescence and the impact of cyber security breaches, recently estimated at $1 trillion!
MILS technology provides a basis for layering your assurance capability in a way that allows you to evaluate the assurance of each component, starting with the trusted hardware, moving up through the Separation Kernel, adding the middleware and finally your Operating Systems and applications. This layered approach allows you to divide your high assurance code into manageable blocks which can be evaluated to the highest degree, and allow non-secure component to co-exist on the final system.
Click here to see a demo of our MILS technology in action at MILCOM 2008.
I am back in the office after a busy few weeks at Embedded World and Avionics 09. I read in the news that the third C-130AMP has its first flight ahead of schedule which is excellent news in these days of doom and gloom over the economy!
The C-130 AMP is a heavy user of our technology, so that prompted me to go ahead and write about Avionics 09. Wind River had a very busy show, with a conference paper, 3 workshops and a master class, which kept us all busy for the two days!
Chip Downing gave a great paper on MILS technology during the main conference. I was privileged to chair one of the main conference sessions, introducing Rockwell Collins to talk about HGS, HUD and other displays, and George Romanski of Verocel who gave an update of the work going on for the DO-178C standard - something we are all looking forwards to!
The conference gave some excellent papers and update on various Avionics projects, unfortunately I missed some of the session to give a workshop and Master class. I did catch the keynote by the FAA who covered Future Air Traffic Management (including NexGen), taking us on a "flight" from flightplanning through to the final taxi to the terminal - a fascinating look at infrastructure and avionics for the future ATC system.
This was aligned and expanded by Eurocontrol who did the same for the EU project SESAR, but who expanded this to show how it will align with Military air users and technology. It is good to see these two projects are in alignment, especially as I travel between them quite frequently!
I presented Larry Kinnan's paper on the issues of multicore and certification, which I think was well received - if any one wants a copy of the paper please feel free to email me.
Olivier Charrier presented an overview of IMA certification with George Romanski of Verocel, and also presented a paper with Michael Fries of AdaCore.
We gave a Master Class of developing high performance graphics with Presagis, GE Fanuc and Seaweed, demonstrating the solution running at 60Hz with VAPS XT, VxWorks, GE Fanuc Magic 1 Embedded Computer and Seaweed's Open GL Stack.
All in all I had a very busy show, with customer meetings and presentations, I don't think I had time to walk around the event to see what other stands were showing!
Did you attend the show and what did you think?
Technorati Tags: A400M, Ada, AdaCore, ALT, Avionics, C-130AMP, EADS, Eurocontrol, Eurocontrol, FAA, FAA, GE Fanuc, GE Fanuc, George Romanski, Graphics, HGS, HUD, Larry Kinnan, Michael Freiss, NexGen, Olivier Charrier, OpenGL, Presagis, Seaweed, Seaweed, SESAR, VAPS XT, Verocel, Verocel, VxWorks, VxWorks 653, Wind River
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I visited Embedded World in Nueremberg last week and was pretty stunned at the size of the show - it reminded me of the old embedded shows we used to have at Olympia, which have pretty much died out in the UK.
My primary reason for attending was to network with some of our partners who would not be able to make it to Avionics 09 this week in Amsterdam. We will be attending this years show with special interest to see how the industry is coping with the current economic climate.
Do you still attend trade shows and which ones do you find most successful?
This week as part of the Real Time Group we were looking at "Dependability through Assuredness" and had some great presentations on formal methods and security. We (or rather my boss Rob Hoffman) presented on the MILS architecture. If you want to see a demo of this technology then visit MILCOM 2008 Security (as with safety) is something that has to be designed into the system architecture. It is fascinating to listen to the experts discussing potential threats and covert channels into systems and how you can start to formally prove your system is secure. This was further strengthened by the report on the BBC on keyboard sniffers. The technique allows the "hacker" to listen in on what the keyboard is sending into the computer from a distance of up to 20m and the report concludes "The results led the researchers to declare keyboards were "not safe to transmit sensitive information". " This just goes to show how much thought you have to put into potential security threats, how often have you sat in a cafe and typed away on your laptop without a care in the world.....
This week as part of the Real Time Group we were looking at "Dependability through Assuredness" and had some great presentations on formal methods and security. We (or rather my boss Rob Hoffman) presented on the MILS architecture. If you want to see a demo of this technology then visit MILCOM 2008
Security (as with safety) is something that has to be designed into the system architecture. It is fascinating to listen to the experts discussing potential threats and covert channels into systems and how you can start to formally prove your system is secure.
This was further strengthened by the report on the BBC on keyboard sniffers. The technique allows the "hacker" to listen in on what the keyboard is sending into the computer from a distance of up to 20m and the report concludes "The results led the researchers to declare keyboards were "not safe to transmit sensitive information". "
This just goes to show how much thought you have to put into potential security threats, how often have you sat in a cafe and typed away on your laptop without a care in the world.....
It is good to see that even with the current Financial Meltdown we continue to see funding for advanced technology and systems making slow but sure progress through the design life-cycle.
Some examples have made the news in the last few weeks that I thought worth mentioning.
The first is the increased use of MAV and in particular the fact that MAV are being used already in IRAQ.
Another FCS item that I saw was the Army firing its first round from a NLOS-C mounted on an FCS chassis.
Photo by U.S. Army
Finally, NASA, looking way ahead announced several research projects for "N+3" aircraft - in other words three generations ahead for flight in the 2030 time frame. I especially like the Thunderbird-like artists impression of the future supersonic aircraft!
I can only hope that the current funds being poured into the failing financial system does not pull too much from the aerospace research budgets as we need to fund these if the industry is going to be sustainable!
What prompted me to blog today was my experience flying home from Amsterdam this week, and an unusual news story.
As usual I started to doze as the aircraft taxied out to the runway, but as we started to take off the usual acceleration was halted followed by braking and air brakes coming up on the wings. We then turned around and headed back to the taxi way....
Pilot informed us they had a "technical problem" which was followed by the usual 2 hour delay and changing aircraft before setting off for home again. Turned out one of a dual redundant indicator in the cockpit shows and engine over temperature fault and the technician would not sign off the aircraft as safe to fly. I don't mind this as safety in flying is paramount - although I did regret paying for getting an earlier flight!
A couple of things struck me about this as I had been thinking about Unmanned Passenger Aircraft following a conference I attended earlier in the year (UV Europe in London) where one of the presenters thought we would see unmanned commercial passenger flights within the next 10 years.
On the face of it this problem was a logic problem, the fault occurred in the safe part of the take off, the pilot saw the fault and aborted safely. I see no reason a computer could not have done the same, in fact the computer control would have probably not had so much delay as it would have said fault - return to base - and that's it; I can't imagine a computer making a decision to fly anyway or to fly with a faulty indicator, as clearly the pilot would have done if the technician signed it off. (That does remind me of the Bomb #20 in Dark Star!)
Another item hit the news this week that definitely would have been helped by having an unmanned aircraft - two pilots fell asleep at the controls !
Now, I have heard of folks missing their stops on the train and even the bus, but two pilots falling asleep at the controls is definitely a good argument for unmanned aircraft!
Would you fly in an Unmanned Passenger Plane?
With each new tool added to Eclipse it becomes more and more powerful for developer's and in particular for developers of device software.
Personally, I think it is good to see these tools coming together in such a seamless way.
What do you think?