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Technique finds software bugs in surgical robots and helps developers fix flaws, ensure safety
Date:4/8/2013

, maintain their lanes or otherwise drive themselves.

"Because the consequences of these systems malfunctioning are so great, finding a way to prove they are free of design errors has been one of the most important and pressing challenges in computer science," Platzer said. Testing alone is inadequate because no test regimen can check all of the possible circumstances that the system might encounter.

A growing number of techniques have been developed to aid in formally verifying that computer hardware and software are free from design defects. These techniques analyze all the possible states of a system, much as a mathematician uses a proof to determine that a theorem is correct. But methods that work for computer circuitry or software, which may be complex but have a finite number of states, don't work for hybrid systems that must contend with the infinite variations of the physical world.

Platzer, however, has developed an approach based on differential dynamic logic and an associated tool called KeYmaeraD that can be used to model a hybrid system and its properties and then symbolically pick it apart. This approach, which Platzer already has used successfully to identify errors in aircraft collision avoidance systems and to verify the design of distributed car control systems, can verify that a design is safe or else help generate counterexamples of how the system can fail.

Platzer and his colleagues applied this approach to evaluate the control algorithm for the skull-base surgery robot. This robot aids in intricate surgery in small recesses of the brain by minimizing tiny movements as a surgeon manipulates a tool and by restricting the tool to movement within the surgical site. As the tool approaches the surgical boundary, beyond which healthy and vital tissues can be harmed, it exerts force feedback to warn the surgeon. If the tool reaches the boundary, the robot is supposed to stop it from going farther. This functionality
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Contact: Byron Spice
bspice@cs.cmu.edu
412-268-9068
Carnegie Mellon University
Source:Eurekalert

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