Modern mobility platforms – such as automobiles, aircraft, drones, ships and spacecraft – have very complex computing and control systems onboard. Even subtle failures in these deployed systems – either in hardware, software or their configuration – can lead to serious consequences. They need to undergo extensive testing and certification to ensure that they maintain high performance, safety and security under all conditions encountered in the field. Such systems consist of many Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) hardware, software and middleware components as well as application specific software.
Figure below is an illustrative example of hardware and software architecture, representative of many mobility platforms. All boxes and lines, except the one termed “Application Program” are components, either COTS or internal. Choosing the correct components, configuring them correctly, and operating them within the bounds intended by the supplier is vital. When changes are made to the architecture at each technology refresh, the same process needs to be repeated
In structural engineering, a practice that has been around for millennia (since the days of the pyramids) is to carefully evaluate the constituent components for various environmental and operating stress conditions to ensure that (a) for all intended operating parameter ranges, the materials and components will hold up, and (b) there are adequate available engineering margins for various operating conditions. As a modern example, for airframe structures, the composite materials themselves are tested for a range of operating temperatures, pressures, stresses, vibrations etc.; the interfaces between components – e.g., rivets and glue – are evaluated for their respective operating ranges. Material and component characterization graphs resulting from such tests can then be used to evaluate available margins for the overall integrated system.
A methodical, Digital Engineering approach to the development and standardization of component characterizations can significantly cut down program costs and risks during component selection, integration, testing and sustainment phases
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