NASA Spinoff

Tools Ensure Reliability of Critical Software

In response to a widespread medical device recall, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started encouraging manufacturers of infusion pumps to utilize static code analysis tools like CodeSonar to check the pumps’ software. Commonly used to deliver fluids into a patient’s body, infusion pumps have been responsible for a number of deaths and injuries since 2005. In one instance, investigators at the FDA used CodeSonar to help determine the root cause of malfunction in a widelydeployed, commercial infusion pump.

Cell phone developers like LG Electronics Inc., Samsung, and Panasonic are also using CodeSonar. McDougall explains, “Cell phones are expected to function 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The software that runs the internal cell phone, changes what is on the screen, and manages the address book, all has to be very reliable. Users do not want to have to reboot or install updates in the middle of a phone call.”

GE Aviation, a provider of jet engines and components, as well as avionics, electric power, and mechanical systems for aircraft, uses CodeSonar to ensure the software in aircraft functions properly. “Software is an important part of engine design, and a lot of how planes work is controlled by software. You want it to be perfect—or as close to perfect as possible,” says McDougall.

With public and private entities employing CodeSonar, Holzmann is hopeful that more organizations will be inspired to improve software development practice. “If the technology continues to be adopted, we will have made a contribution to making the computer systems we rely on safer and more reliable,” he says.

Since developing The Power of 10, Holzmann has devised a single coding standard called the JPL Institutional Coding Standard for the Development of Flight Software. McDougall expects the standard will be incorporated in the next commercial version of CodeSonar.

CodeSonar® is a registered trademark of GrammaTech Inc.