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Case Study: Automating Operability Tests for Complex Systems


Innovative Defense Technologies (IDT) uses case studies of past automation efforts to illustrate both the application and benefits of automated software testing.  This case study will focus on applying automation to operability tests for complex systems used to gather sensor level data.  The sensor data is processed, displayed on consoles and then examined by operators and analysts. The test includes operators looking for changes on the images displayed which indicate an environment anomaly.  Upon detection, the anomaly is then further evaluated and classified against known characteristics. The current manual testing effort takes approximately eight hours to complete and executed as often as three to four times a week.


The automated test strategy was to focus on reducing the amount of time required to complete the operability test and analysis efforts. Tests are most often based on known input data sets and evaluating an expected and known response from the system.  For this particular system and test however a specific challenge was the dynamic nature of the input data and therefore the results are different each time the system is run. ATRT: Test Manager was selected because it lends itself well to running tests unattended for long periods of time while interacting and verifying information simultaneously from multiple display consoles. ATRT: Test Manager also has features to evaluate test results against dynamic input data.  As a result,  during the operability test, even though the sensor level data stimulating the system is unique every time the test is run. ATRT: Test Manager was able to dynamically evaluate the displayed information.


With the use of ATRT: Test Manager, the overall time to complete the desired operability test and analysis was reduced by 87.5%.  This offered significant savings in time and quality as compared to the traditional manual test effort.  This savings and reliability is further realized as the tests are consistently repeated over time.  Automation with ATRT: Test Manager reduced the operability test and analysis effort and increased the accuracy and quality of the results.