Effective test approaches, efficient tool support, testing certification

Testing at 1000 MPH

On 2nd July 2014 Andy Green gave a brilliant keynote presentation at the World Congress for Software Quality entitled “Testing Quality at 1,000 MPH?”

He will drive Bloodhound SSC, as he did ThrustSSC which on 16th August 2014 became the holder of the longest standing FIA World Land Speed Record.

The Bloodhound SSC website has a large quantity of content explaining the project and its progress. The YouTube links in this article are to two of the videos which Bloodhound SSC has uploaded.

Why 1000 mph?

Andy Green explained the context of why the Bloodhound SSC team has set a target of 1000 mph for a new World Land Speed Record.

http://www.bloodhoundssc.com/project sets out the objectives and mission statement. Andy Green focussed on the desire to create excitement and interest in science and technology in schools.

Richard Nobel who broke the World Land Speed Record in Thrust2 in 1983, the Project Director for Bloodhound SSC, explains in more detail in the video below how the project is aiming to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians.

Delivering the project to the right level of quality

The three basic rules for setting a record are:

  • The car must have four or more wheels;
  • Two attempts are allowed within one hour;
  • The car must be continuously controlled by the driver.

Mindful of the dangerous nature of setting World Land Speed records, and with five fatal accidents in 115 years, Andy Green emphasised the project’s absolute requirement to inspire the future scientists, engineers and mathematicians in our schools.

He defined the ultimate measure of quality as “keeping all of the wheels on the ground at all times”.

The team is confident that the speed target can be achieved as the car will be powered by an EJ200 Jet engine (used by Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft) and a Hybrid Rocket engine. However, testing to gain confidence that the project has achieved the right level of quality is a huge challenge.

It terms of keeping the car on the ground it isn’t possible to simulate in a conventional wind tunnel what’s going on under the car. The team will need to simulate this at supersonic speeds. YouTube has videos from Bloodhound SSC showing the testing of the Hybrid Rocket. One from 2011 shows initial testing of a one third scale version, whereas the full scale test on 3rd October 2012 was the biggest rocket to be fired in the UK for twenty years. Andy Green gave an example of trying to avoid total reliance on software. Airbrakes and parachutes are used for slowing down the car when at high speed, and the latter can be lever operated as a ‘fail safe’ should deployment related software fail.

Responsibilities, Risks and Stakeholders

Andy Green asked “who’s the QA manager” in the context of who’s responsible for quality, the answer being “everyone”. The tempting answer to his question “who owns the risks” was to say that it is him as the driver. In terms of living with the consequences of a failure he highlighted that all of the stakeholders had ownership including staff and sponsors. The objective of inspiring today’s school children is very much at the forefront of everyone’s concerns.

One highly motivated stakeholder group is the team of people preparing the race track in Hakskeenpan, South Africa. Andy Green explained that 300 people are needed to clear 6000 tons of debris over a three year period. They need to ensure that there is no debris at all on the track when the record is attempted. It’s difficult to think of a more highly motivated group of people as the success of the attempt will fundamentally change their lives.

 

Amongst all of the impressive technical statistics I thought the most striking one was Andy Green’s closing observation. At 1000 mph Bloodhound SSC would be travelling faster than any jet fighter can at ground level.

We would be back to how things were when cars were once faster than aeroplanes.

 

21st August 2014