back to article Hefty IT prof develops robot to check that robots are safe

A Turing-awardwinner* boffin in the States says he has developed new software which can test the safety of computer-controlled railways, air-traffic systems, hospital intensive-care monitors, enormous 600-tonne godzilla lorries and such like - all the many kinds of smart machinery which can kill people. Automated "roundabout" …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Made up problem?

    Surely the problem with the second diagram is simply that the radius of the circle the aircraft fly on when instructed to turn right is not large enough. In order to ensure they use the roundabout appropriately, they should turn right and fly in an arc described from the point of intersection, using that distance as the radius?

  2. Frank

    Adjust Height!

    If these are the same aircraft things that I'm familiar with, they can adjust their height. So, why not have one aircraft climb up a bit and the other aircraft drop down a bit, then they'll miss each other?

    I do realise that there are issues regarding accurate onboard instrumentation of an aircraft's height and the question of the accuracy/resolution of the radar height measurement from the ground, should be possible.

  3. TeeCee Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Re: Made up problem?

    Depends whether you think the actual ATC command issued is "Racetrack, circle left" or "Racetrack, circle left, describing an arc of radius exactly 2.8 miles".

    I know which my money's on.

  4. this

    re:made up problem?

    In those circumstances ATC always requests different heights (flight levels) for each aircraft. Planes don't fly in 2D! Presumably that's an illustrative example (but a naff one).

  5. Mobius


    Altitude anyone?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Its Oh So Easy...When you dont understand the problem!

    The point of roundabouts is that the instruction to BOTH Planes is the same no trying to work out which blob is which! altitude is stupid if both do the same especially if losing altitude gains speed!

    Roundabouts work! But Only when around the same point this is the problem described in the example if they both fly around different points then a colission can occur, with todays GPS and Flight Data IT should be trivial to immediatly calculate an equidistant collision point and issue a a turn instruction at the same time to both Pilots. but they must fly the same radius about the same center point, starting at the same time...

  7. Jerome

    Turing award?

    Doesn't that mean that this particular boffin can't be told apart from an ordinary human being during conversation? High praise indeed for any academic.

  8. James O'Brien

    Re: Adjust Height!

    Umm I believe that the game your thinking of in this case is HAWX which has a 3D world. Unsure of what game this guy was thinking of when he sketched this out on bar napkins...

    /yes mines the flight suit....thanks

  9. Charles Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Re:Adjust Height!

    And if it's not possible to change altitude because of crowded airspace where there are aircraft known to be flying above and/or below the flight levels of the two planes and in the general vicinity?

  10. Nigee

    that's a relief

    So the European rail network signalling is OK, this is safety critical software governed by various regulations and standards, so it demonstrates that in this case at least safety critical software processes work.

  11. Taryn East

    Turing test?

    Um, didn't Turing prove that it was impossible to do exactly what he's claiming to be able to do? ie to break down any algorithm into provable pieces and make sure they are correct? If I recall this just one aspect of the Turning halting problem or my memory of university is way too hazy.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    "Finding the [bugs] is actually the easy part," says Platzer. "Proving that they're fixed is hard."

    Erm, surely you'd just run it through the algorithms that decompose the systems until they produce differential invariants *again* ??

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