Simulation to Minimize Development Risk

You have a legacy control system that needs to be updated to new hardware and software while maintaining the same behavior as the old system. Building a system that simulates the environment of the legacy system can help. For example: if you are creating a new control system for a rocket launch facility, you would create a system that simulates the rocket and the launch facility.

The simulation system can verify that the new controls are behaving the same as the old without the risk of damage to the existing system. Using simulations can often speed up development cycles 


Risks of updating a legacy control system:

  • New system may not behave the same
  • It is hard to test all of the situations on actual hardware
  • Testing emergency or damage situations require creating these dangerous situations

Updating legacy systems carries risk

Strategies for developing and using a simulation system

  1. Compare data from the legacy system with data from the new system

Use the legacy system to gather data from the real system and from the simulation system. You can then use that data to compare how your new software performs relative to the legacy system.

Endigit used this strategy in updating the control system of a nuclear test reactor. We were able to successfully reverse their system by looking at the Assembly code and data from previous experiments.

  1. Use simulation system to test dangerous or costly real life tests

Control systems in critical applications need to work correctly every time. For example, you would be hesitant to get on an aircraft whose flight control system had not been thoroughly tested. However, many of the scenarios are either costly or dangerous to perform live tests on. No one gets hurt and no equipment is damaged when a plane crashes in a simulation. 

  1. Keep simulation system after deployment to run tests on any changes

After the new control system is deployed, the simulation system can still be useful to test software changes in a controlled environment. Just because the new system has been deployed doesn’t mean that this system won’t need changes or additions that require testing. Tests can be automated to ensure that any changes made will result in desired behavior.

Bryan Heslop

Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Vice President of Human Resources, Staff Systems Engineer

Bryan first discovered he was a megageek in a college physics class when he got way too excited about tesla coils (most people figured it out much sooner). Bryan worked as a machinist programming and operating CNC lathes while attending Brigham Young University. He earned a degree in Computer Engineering with a Business Management minor in 2008. After graduation Bryan moved to Austin, Texas to work at National Instruments. He worked as an Applications Engineer in the Engineering Leadership Program for 2 years then spent 1 year in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a Field Sales Engineer. He then moved back home to Utah and worked as District Sales Manager for National Instruments where he managed NI’s large accounts in Utah like Hill Air Force Base, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, OrbitalATK and L-3.

At Endigit Bryan is responsible for sales and marketing. As a Certified LabVIEW Architect, he also works as a Systems Engineer doing LabVIEW development.

Bryan enjoys everything about water (boating, swimming, rock skipping, drinking, etc.), riding ATVs, comedy writing, exploring the mountains around his home and dreams of going to space.  He also serves as a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical responder in his community.

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