Advanced Test Engineering (ATE) Solutions, Inc. wins Phase II SBIR Grant

InteliSpark client Advanced Test Engineering (ATE) Solutions, Inc. has been awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant worth $750,000. The grant is for the SBIR project “Advanced High-Speed Bus Technologies for Unit Under Test and Evaluation."  The goal of the SBIR project is to develop innovative test methods and associated tools required to support the advanced testing requirements of emerging high-speed bus technologies that are required for design-for-test as well as operational testing for the first two phases with an optional third year.

Current state-of-the-art test tools handle conventional data buses, but cannot address the testing needs of new, high speed, data buses that are being incorporated in the latest aircraft enhancements. Next-generation Units Under Test (UUTs) are designed with high-throughput buses ranging from 100 Mbps to 1500 Mbps, and utilize various new data buses (e.g. Firewire, RS-422, Wi-Fi, SATA, SMPTE Video). This drives a need for faster digital communication buses in Automatic Test Equipment (ATE) to facilitate testing, file upload and download, and other UUT interactions.

The methods and tools developed will aid in the support of state-of-the-art bus technologies in the fleet, and also ensure the integrity, quality, and reliability of the signals and data communication associated with the buses. This effort should leverage the current Navy Automatic Test System (ATS) environments, and industry standards to support electronics maintenance.

High speed data buses are a new technology being introduced into Navy avionics, as well as electronic equipment in other Services. Solutions to fully test this new technology are required for Navy ATS. The technologies required will have a direct impact on testing associated with both design and operation of Units Under Test (UUTs) employing high speed communication interfacing and busing. This is evident in the need for standards in the DoD ATS Framework Integrated Product Team (IPT)’s key element UUT Device Interfaces (UDI). The UDI element recognizes the requirements for testing complex forms of data communication and requires industry standards to ensure an open architecture approach is integrated in the resulting technologies. These technologies involve extremely high-speed data rates, complex timing and synchronization, and high-speed multiplexing, all of which require parameters that are capable of insuring signal integrity. Some of these parameters involve statistical measurements, bit error rates, and complex signal to noise and distortion measurements. Current and conventional test methods are not capable of achieving the degree of testing quality necessary to ensure the proper performance of these UUTs and maintaining the data integrity for high speed net-centric information exchanges.

In order to ensure consistency of approaches and tools, industry standards related to signals associated with advanced bussing should be considered, such as the Automatic Test Markup Language (IEEE-1671, ATML). In working with the current industry standards, deficiencies might be found. In this case, the effort would involve identifying/suggesting new standards, and/or modifications to existing standards, which would help ensure a consistent, open system, approach across DoD systems.

To achieve these objectives, a set of tools are required that employ standardized technologies associated with digital radio, wireless communication, switching, fiber optics, and networking, which are being employed in existing as well as new UUTs. These tools should encompass industry standard signal libraries (such as IEEE-1641), test descriptions describing parameterized test methods, and performance verification for communication with devices that have highly complex inputs and outputs. The tools need to configure test instrumentation such as waveform generators, digitizers, oscillators, up and down converters, bus analyzers, and high speed digital generators to support the development of the signals / methods required. These test and evaluation tools are expected to significantly reduce the test cost and foot print of support items, and enhance Test Program Set (TPS) rehost.