DO-178C AI Demo #1 – Virtual DER

Jan 25, 2024 | AI, DO-178C

Greetings fellow humans 🌎 👫 (+ 🛸 👽 💻 🤖), and a very warm welcome to my third video. Thanks for tuning in. 🙏

Overview

In the previous two videos, I introduced the concept of DO-178C in plain text. That is, the entire DO-178C project, all the documents (PSAC, SDP, SVCP, HLRs, LLRs etc), the source code (duh), the test scripts, reviews, PRs – EVERYTHING is in plain text. Contrast this with what your are doing at the moment with your DO-178C data buried in DOORS, MS Word, Excel, PDFs, Polarion, random emails, scraps of paper etc

Plain text makes the entire project readable by an AI, searchable with powerful tools such as grep/ripgrep/fzf, and editable within Emacs (and Vim / VS code with plugins) as an org-mode document.

In future videos, I will showcase the different AI agents that we have created, but for this video, I just want to showcase a single agent, which is effectively a DO-178C expert that either a human user, or another AI can interrogate to unravel the mysteries of the certification process.

We call this agent the ‘Virtual DER’ 🙂

A ‘DER’ is Designated Engineering Representative. DERs serve as independent experts and ensure compliance with regulations, standards and safety requirements in the aviation industry. The European equivalent is Design Organisation Approval (DOA).

To be clear, this agent acts as a local expert only. It does not actually certify anything or even measure compliance, but it is able to take the DO-178C standard and interpret it to provide guidance to the user.

Demo: Virtual DER

We have taken the DO-178C standard and we feed it to an LLM, allowing us to ask questions on the standard.

This is all command line at the moment.

We can ask it some very specific questions, for instance:

question = "what is the difference between CC1 and CC2. Give references"

Wed 6 Dec 17:13:11 GMT 2023

Answer: Control Category 1 (CC1) and Control Category 2 (CC2) are two configuration management control categories that define the set of Software Configuration Management (SCM) process activities associated with each category. CC2 activities are a subset of the CC1 activities, meaning that all activities required for CC2 are also included in CC1, but CC1 includes additional activities that are not required for CC2.

The specific differences in activities between CC1 and CC2 are not detailed in the provided context, but it is indicated that CC1 encompasses a broader range of SCM process activities compared to CC2.

For references, the context mentions the following:

  • Table 7-1 defines the SCM Process Activities associated with CC1 and CC2 data.
  • Annex A tables specify the control category by software level for the software life cycle data items.

Unfortunately, without the actual content of Table 7-1 and Annex A, I cannot provide the specific activities that differentiate CC1 from CC2. If you have access to these tables, you would be able to see the exact activities listed for each control category.

This forms the basis of our “Virtual DER”, but as you can see, it has trouble with Tables.

We also have AIs that we have trained on technical manuals, for example the ARM v53 reference manual to find out how to disable the cache.

These AIs will become ‘AI Agents’. 🤖

Demo: Adding Tables

One difficulty is that the AI cannot interpret the DO-178C tables, for example Table A-1:

table-a1.png

Figure 1: DO-178C Table A-1

But we have cracked this…

We can reformat the tables to the AI can understand.

question = "What are the Output Data Items that are applicable to Software Level D. Ensure there are no duplicates and present individual items as an unordered list."

Level B

> Finished chain.
Answer: The Output Data Items that are applicable to Software Level B, with no duplicates, are:

  • PSAC
  • SDP
  • SVP
  • SCM Plan
  • SQA Plan
  • SW Requirements Standards
  • SW Design Standards
  • SW Code Standards
  • Software Verification Results

Level D

> Finished chain.
Answer: The Output Data Items that are applicable to Software Level D, with no duplicates, are:

  • PSAC
  • SDP
  • SVP
  • SCM Plan
  • SQA Plan

Descriptions and Data Items Level D

question = "Give the objective descriptions (with references) and associated Output Data Items (with references) that are applicable by software to Level D."

Answer: The objectives descriptions and associated Output Data Items that are applicable by software to Level D are as follows:

  1. Objective Description: “The activities of the software life cycle processes are defined.”
    • Objective Reference: 4.1.a
    • Output Data Items:
      • PSAC (Output Chapter Reference: 11.1)
      • SDP (Output Chapter Reference: 11.2)
      • SVP (Output Chapter Reference: 11.3)
      • SCM Plan (Output Chapter Reference: 11.4)
      • SQA Plan (Output Chapter Reference: 11.5)
  2. Objective Description: “Additional considerations are addressed.”
    • Objective Reference: 4.1.d
    • Output Data Items:
      • PSAC (Output Chapter Reference: 11.1)
      • SDP (Output Chapter Reference: 11.2)
      • SVP (Output Chapter Reference: 11.3)
      • SCM Plan (Output Chapter Reference: 11.4)
      • SQA Plan (Output Chapter Reference: 11.5)

Conclusions

This ‘Virtual DER’ trained on the DO-178C standard, can be used as a company wide store of knowledge. It can answer specific questions and give references to allow an engineer, and other AI agents, to determine the appropriate path to achieve objectives in DO-178C.

As we will see in the next video, this agent forms one of many cooperative agents that can be used to perform more complex tasks, such as writing a PSAC or performing an SQA review.

We use these tools to accelerate and automate the DO-178C process for our customers.

If you would like a quick demo, please go to the contact page on my website https://harmonicss.co.uk/contact and get in touch.

We have also created a new Linked In group to discuss AI within the DO-178C framework, you can join here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12921667/

That’s it for now. In the next video I will showcase the creation of a PSAC document.

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