Optimizing the human - Safety critical on a budget

Alex Powell

Safety Critical Lead, Volant Autonomy

The 4th industrial revolution has enabled an unprecedented pace of technological evolution in the safety-critical domain. The risks associated with technologies, such as self-driving cars and uncrewed aircraft, underscore the urgent need for robust,  rigorous and rapid software development practices. As a new entrant to the aviation automation market, albeit backed by extensive experience in the commercial and research worlds, Volant Autonomy is alert to the need for rapid certification to make these technologies viable.

In this talk we will explore these challenges, focusing on how optimising the use of software tools through automation and fast-feedback loops will make this possible. We will delve into the methods and tools applicable at various stages of the development life-cycle showcasing tools such as specification languages like Alloy, formal methods in SPARK Ada, and automated test-case generation. Furthermore, we will cover how these tools can reduce labour-intensive manual tasks, freeing engineers to focus on complex problem solving. It is the integration of these tools along with up-to-the-minute DevOps practices and a novel project management paradigm which will become a force-multiplier for rapid certification.

It is essential to acknowledge the technical, managerial and regulatory challenges when implementing new ways of working in the safety-critical arena. We will discuss these challenges and propose strategies for overcoming them, particularly those which benefit from the support of the high integrity software community.

The next technological revolution demands a proactive approach to safety-critical software development. Automation is pivotal to ensuring that development speed and safety are not mutually exclusive.

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About Alex Powell

Alex Powell is the Safety-Critical Lead at Volant Autonomy, a spin-out out from the University of Bath. Volant's mission is enabling the Advanced-Air-Mobility market through technologies supporting the integration of uncrewed aircraft into the airspace. Alex has been involved in safety critical systems from the outset of his career and is looking at how to utilize modern approaches to build safe, robust software.

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