Jim Thomas, Director of Software Testing at TVS, will present at “Verification and Testing – a Necessary Evil for Compliance?” at the Vehicle Electronics at the NEC in Birmingham UK on Wednesday 22nd April.

The ISO26262 safety standard sets out a number of testing and verification objectives for embedded automotive software developments to meet but doesn’t mandate how they are met. For many embedded software development projects testing is the phase that follows development – it has to be done and, for certification, it has to be seen to have been done.

Once developed, software is integrated and testing is used to uncover defects in requirements, design and coding. This phase inevitably takes a lot longer than planned as many more defects are uncovered than expected, but defect removal eventually starts outpacing defect detection and the software reaches a level of stability.  Then, independent verification and testing is carried out and evidence is assembled – requirements verification, design verification, code reviews, unit tests, integration tests, software/hardware integration tests are all formally done. It’s an unwelcome but unavoidable overhead to achieve certification – a necessary evil.

This is an all too common picture and there are many reasons why this is seen as the most practical approach. Having software available early for integration with hardware is a good thing right? How can requirements be fully understood until there is something working to assess? Tangible evidence of progress keeps management happy etc.

But this approach also brings many risks and it is very costly. This presentation explains how an integrated testing approach coupled with better verification during design can significantly accelerate software development, saving embedded projects both time, money and many tedious hours spent debugging.