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Quality Assurance and Testing in Automotive Device Development

QA & Testing in Automotive DevelopmentThe automotive sector is a highly regulated industry, and for good reason: with millions of vehicles running on dirt roads and in the fast lanes of modern motorways across the globe, accidents are bound to happen. On such densely populated roads, safety is key.

Having to pass driving exams is just a small part of the measures taken to make sure we all get home safe. The vehicles we use, and all the devices they contain, in other words, the end products of automotive development also have to undergo rigorous examination in order to ensure the safety and reliability of the vehicles themselves, and all the devices that are used in them.

While mechanical and electrical reliability and safety remains important, there's another aspect that greatly increases the need for adequate quality assurance & testing processes. Embedded software is increasingly used in cars to manage and monitor the operation of interconnected mechanical and electronic modules. In fact, in more and more cases, certain pieces of hardware are being replaced by software providing similar functionality.

As shown by a frequently quoted article, modern cars now feature significantly more software code than an F-22 fighter jet, or even the entire system of Facebook – equating to a whopping 100 million lines of code in a modern high-end car. That's a lot of code, meaning a lot of risks.

Automotive Quality Assurance and Testing

In order to ensure that all that code works reliably and doesn't introduce further hazards, quality assurance measures need to be taken. Automotive developers rely on risk management on one hand, and QA & testing on the other.

Risk management measures are taken to identify potential hazards in advance, and to plan and execute the mitigation of these risks in order to reduce the general risk level of a device or system. While risk management does affect and should be carried out throughout the processes of development, it can be considered a mainly preliminary procedure. To learn more about risk management, see our post titled Risk Management in Automotive Development, and watch our 34-minute webinar recording below:

The measures of automotive software testing, on the other hand, focus more on the development process and the outcomes (the safety and reliability of the end product). The term quality assurance ideally incorporates risk management, adequate process quality, and testing measures.

With the level of complexity involved in the development of software used in modern vehicles, software quality assurance & testing is a tedious and complex task. What's more, not only do developers have to implement adequate QA processes, and ensure their products have been thoroughly tested, they also need to document these efforts to prove compliance with relevant industry regulations.

Regulatory compliance, traceability and test coverage

IEC 61508, ISO 26262, Automotive SPICE, and CMMI are just two of the many international standards that apply to automotive developers. To achieve compliance with relevant standards and regulations, the complete transparency and traceability of development processes needs to be ensured. Developers of automotive software have to make sure that adequate links are established between all work items; that dependencies are aptly managed; that their products are thoroughly tested; and that all the above measures are fully documented to facilitate compliance audits.

When developing complex systems such as those used in road vehicles, the sheer amount of code makes all this a strenuous task. This is why automotive developers rely on various tools to support certain sub-processes. Using the right solution not only reduces costs, it also decreases the risks of anything going wrong.

codeBeamer ALM aptly supports automotive development processes in many ways. First and foremost, the platform relies on a single repository, and lets you establish links between all work items from the beginning of your product's lifecycle all the way through to testing, release and maintenance. Consequently, codeBeamer ALM provides gapless, end-to-end traceability and a complete change history of all items. Our Test Coverage Browser provides a convenient and efficient overview of your testing processes, showing you the current state of all your test cases, and the extent to which you have covered requirements with test cases.

All your project information may be captured in baselines, and comprehensive reports easily exported to facilitate regulatory compliance audits. codeBeamer also offers advanced risk management functionality, and advanced process management capabilities. Workflows can be customized to help process enforcement and guards with e-signatures allow for permissions-based workflow management.

A preconfigured template is available for automotive regulatory compliance, with flexibly customizable features to suit any development environment. A wide range of integrations let you connect codeBeamer ALM to any toolchain, enabling the centralized management of the entire lifecycle.

To learn more about how companies like Daimler, KIA, Continental, Hyundai, AImotive, and others use codeBeamer ALM, simply request a free 1-on-1 online demo. Alternatively, feel free to download codeBeamer ALM's free evaluation version.