This blog post seeks to talk about the challenges of testing and potentially ways to improve the productivity of testing.
The nature of Hornet, an underwater vehicle that involves hardware and software components to work simultaneously, makes testing challenging. Even though Queenstown swimming pool is quite near, the travelling and preparation time is fairly substantial. We are allowed to test in the pool from 10am to 4pm. However, actual testing usually starts at 11am and ends at 3pm because of preparation and packing up. Lunch usually takes half an hour and another half an hour is spent changing batteries and preparing the AUV to go into the water again. Therefore, actual testing time is really only 3 hours long, and this is if nothing goes wrong…
However, in recent tests, there have been minor leakages in the main hull or camera hull due to either carelessness (we forgot to turn the cap tightly) or poor equipment from a certain company (thou shall not be named). These small problems take up a huge proportion of the 3 hours of actual testing time because after fixing and cleaning up the puddles in the hull, we have to ascertain that the source of the leak is not due to structural problems in case it happens again and damages the electrical components.
In addition, software algorithms take a long time to test since feedback comes slowly from the observations of the motion of the AUV instead of instantaneous outputs via the console.
Therefore, given such a challenging test environment, it is good to think of possible ways to maximize our productivity during testing:
1) Careful checks for tightness of caps – Avoid accidents that result in minor leakages that can be time-consuming.
2) Assemble main hull in the lab – Take less time to prepare the AUV for testing at the pool.
3) Duration of tests over quantity of tests – Productivity of testing usually shoots up in the middle of the day when small initial problems are settled and things proceed smoothly. Therefore, having longer tests instead of more tests would be more effective.
4) Logging of test data – Allows us to work on the problems / bugs even when we are not at the swimming pool.
5) Higher battery capacity (To consider in the future) – Changing of battery requires us to retrieve Hornet from the water and this takes some time too.