This paper describes how the LVC environment reduces program risk by decoupling software and hardware dependencies, including enabling application testing before hardware availability. We also describe the applicability of these features to autonomous aircraft, including the need to exploit late-stage innovation that frequently occurs in research and development.
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Autonomous aircraft systems have testing requirements that are distinct from traditional manned and unmanned aircraft. In traditional aircraft testing, the airworthiness is predicated on the ability of an aircrew (test pilot or operator) to safely control the vehicle through the test envelope. Autonomous aircraft, conversely, are designed to obviate the need for human-in-the-loop controls, so traditional airworthiness paradigms are not sufficient.
Rockwell Collins and the University of Iowa’s Operator Performance Laboratory (OPL) have developed a Live, Virtual, Constructive (LVC) enabled testing environment that bridges the gap between traditional test methods and the highly innovative development environments used to produce autonomous vehicle technology.
The environment we describe is a single integrated set of reconfigurable LVC-enabled resources that host the entire spectrum of testing, from development and integration tests through human-factors evaluations and final operational flight tests. Our LVC environment enables seamless transition between: 1) lab or benchtop testing of individual components; 2) subsystem or system-wide simulation of multiple components; and 3) subsystem or system-wide testing on live aircraft without effect on software.