Network on the Verification and Validation of Autonomous Systems

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Computer Science

Abstract

Robots, driverless cars, unmanned air vehicles, etc, can all be built now. However, the main barriers holding back the widespread use of robotics and autonomous systems can be seen as societal: what should the legal framework be for such systems; how can the public come to trust these systems; how can we ensure they are safe; and how do we know such a system will make the decisions we would expect of it? All these are currently impossible to solve with any certainty.

The UK has numerous key research developments concerning the Verification and Validation (V&V) of autonomous systems that can all impact upon this problem. These are clearly of relevance to methods for designing, constructing and deploying autonomous systems but also have importance to Psychology (e.g. social robotics), Philosophy (e.g. machine ethics), and Law (e.g. certification). Constructing autonomous systems without behaviour guarantees can lead to serious outcomes, and may consequently hold back the widespread adoption of these systems.

This Network will coalesce this activity, drive the research agenda forward, and embed the necessity for V&V firmly within industry, the government, and the public.

Planned Impact

We aim to engage closely with governmental agencies, professional societies, European and international institutions to contribute to the public debate on issues influenced by the Verification and Validation (V&V) of Autonomous Systems, leveraging and deepening our existing memberships and influence in such bodies.

Many of the academics involved in the Network, together with their respective universities, have effective mechanisms for dealing with the media, with access to press offices who regularly publicise work nationally and internationally to non-academic audiences. We have already seen how autonomous systems (typically, Robotics) can spark the public's imagination. We will build on this, expand to other forms of autonomous systems (UAVs and driverless cars are natural possibilities), and target public awareness and communication. This is particularly important since V&V provides a viable route towards increased safety, reliability, and public trust.

Our aim, particularly through our Stake-holder Workshops is to engage with a broad range of industries. Although these will initially comprise companies interested in safety, reliability and certification of autonomous systems, we intend to ensure that the message concerning V&V, will be spread and so will aim for publicity across our industrial networks. The Network Portal that will be produced is also important for increased awareness, and showcasing case studies and best practice. It details academic groups within the Network, links to key/new research, case studies in V&V, descriptions of broader application of V&V techniques, material for publicity and opportunities for engagement, and further links to industrial activities. The Portal, together with the Stake-holder Workshops, will provide a focus for material and activity in this area, and will spur further industrial and publicity activities. Finally, we will engage with industrial participants, particularly at these workshops, in order to explore appropriate mechanisms for industrial V&V, ways to stimulate industrial take-up, and sustainable models for the future of the Network.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description It has become clear that not only does the UK have a wide range of expertise in Verification and Validation, especially applied to autonomous systems, but that this work has relevance across not only industry but regulators and governmental policy makers.

Through the workshops associated with the Network, we are engaging with a wide range of organisations and companies to spread the message about ensuring reliability, safety, efficacy, etc, in autonomous systems through the application of Verification and Validation techniques
Exploitation Route Network is open to all academics; mailing list for industry, regulatory, and governmental parties is also kept.

Leading to proposal for further large-scale funding in this area (through SPF).

Leading to international activities.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Transport

URL https://vavas.org/
 
Description Through a range of workshops the Network has engaged with both industrial and regulatory bodies, helping promote the role of (academic) Verification and Validation, and educating industrial partners and regulators about new ways forward. As the workshops have progressed, a stream of industry/regulatory enquiries about getting involved (and about providing sector-specific activities) has been received.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Transport
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Britis Standards Institution: AMT/10 Committee on Robot Safety and Robot Ethics
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
 
Description British Standards Institution: Artificial Intelligence standards committee [ART/1]
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
URL https://standardsdevelopment.bsigroup.com/committees/50281655
 
Description Membership of International Standards Committee (IEEE P7009 Standard for Fail-Safe Design of Autonomous and Semi-Autonomous Systems)
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
URL https://standards.ieee.org/develop/project/7009.html
 
Description Chair in Emerging Technologies
Amount £129,999 (GBP)
Funding ID CiET 1718/6 
Organisation Royal Academy of Engineering 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2019 
End 02/2028
 
Title Model Checking Agent Programming Languages 
Description An Open Source toolkit for prototyping BDI agent programming languages and formally verifying programs written in these languages via an interface to the JavaPathfinder model checker. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The tool has been used in other research projects and has had impact on external organisations looking at the verification of autonomous systems. 
URL https://sourceforge.net/projects/mcapl/
 
Description Agent Verification workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The aim of the workshop is to provide an overview of the field of Agent Verification and associated topics primarily within the UK. We hope this will be of particular value to PhD students in the area but expect it will also provide a useful networking opportunity for more established people. The format of the workshop will be a series of invited talks with the aim of providing good coverage of the research area followed by a panel session and discussion on current research challenges.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://cgi.csc.liv.ac.uk/~maryam/AVWorkshop15.html
 
Description Future of Nuclear Safety Cases workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Future of Nuclear Safety Cases workshop
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://cgi.csc.liv.ac.uk/~mattlck/FNRC/workshop1/
 
Description Industrial Perspectives on the V&V of Autonomous Systems 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Workshop on "Industrial Perspectives on the V&V of Autonomous Systems" held in Sheffield in July 2016, and jointly organised with Innovate UK. Participants were across several areas: academic; industrial; regulatory; government. The aim was to showcase the Verification and Validation (V&V) challenges that industrial colleagues are facing as they look to introduce greater autonomy into their products/sectors/services.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://vavas.org/events/industrial-2016
 
Description Invited talk at Verification of Autonomous Systems Working Group, Washigton DC, USA [Nov 2018] 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk at Verification of Autonomous Systems Working Group, Washigton DC, USA [Nov 2018]
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.robotistry.org/vaswg/nist2018/nist2018.html
 
Description Legal/Regulatory Aspects and V&V 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A one-day workshop, bringing together experts on regulations and standards relating to autonomous systems with those developing verification and validation techniques. Involved academics working on V&V and in autonomous systems areas, and participants from industrial, regulatory, and government areas all tackling "Legal/Regulatory Aspects and V&V"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://vavas.org/events/regulatory-aspects-16
 
Description Verification and Validation of Autonomous Road Vehicles 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Co-organised with the UK Government's Centre for Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) we held a one-day workshop in November 2016 in London, bringing together experts on regulations and standards relating to autonomous road vehicles with those developing verification and validation techniques.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://vavas.org/events/verification-and-validation-for-autonomous-road-vehicles
 
Description Verification and Validation of Autonomous Systems: Ethical, Social and Trustworthy behaviour 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This workshop, held on 23-24 November 2017, brought together researchers who are developing ethical, social and trustworthy behaviour in autonomous robotics, with researchers across the range of verification and validation techniques, in an informal setting to discuss these issues, to share understanding, and to stimulate collaboration. The workshop was funded by EPSRC, through both the Network on the Verification & Validation of Autonomous Systems, and the Verifiable Autonomy research project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://vavas.org/pastevents/workshop-verification-and-validation-of-autonomous-systems-ethical-soci...