Every year, more and more engineers and university teams are using Valispace to build their complex products. It is amazing to see how, even during the pandemic, these future engineers are still managing to create clever designs. We thought you’d like to see them too, so periodically we’ll be sharing stories and perspectives in the words of the people behind the projects, right here on the Valispace Blog.
To kick off the series, we asked Jonathan Wei from EPFL Xplore at the Institute of Technology, Lausanne in Switzerland to tell as about what the team is building and the things they have to take into consideration throughout the engineering process.
What we are developing
EPFL Xplore is an interdisciplinary team of more than 50 university students building a Mars like Rover in order to compete at the European Rover Challenge. Our Rover consists of 6 subsystems: Avionics (the on-board electronics), Structure (the chassis and the overall
structure), Control Station (base station allowing us to control the rover from a distance), Navigation (autonomous navigation software), Handling Device (software + hardware of the robotic arm) and Science (on-board soil sample analysis). The overall coordination, interface management as well as system design is the job of our systems engineers.
Life cycle implementation
We discovered Valispace after hearing from it from another project in our university. We were a bit reluctant at first as it seems to take a lot of time in order to move on to a completely new system. However, after some discussions with our team, it seemed like the benefits would largely outweigh the initial inconvenience of changing the system.
We are planning to use Valispace through the whole life cycle. We are starting by putting the high-level stakeholder requirements derived from the competition rules and decompose them into top level system requirements. Through the design phase, we will put the different components into Valispace and link them to the further decomposed system requirements. This will help us have a consistent and clear overview of the system. We will finally be able to keep track of the different tests by setting them up into Valispace, and ensure that all the requirements have been verified and validated.
One very important concept in systems engineering is to ensure traceability between initial high-level requirements to system element level requirement, the system element itself as well as the verification and validation status. In such complex projects, it is very easy that changes in one subsystem impacts another subsystem. This other subsystem is unfortunately not always aware of the change. That’s why using Valispace will not only keep the other subsystems updated of any change, but also allows us to have a single reference for all the data that we need. For example, a change in the length of the robotic have an impact on the field of view of the lidar, which may imply a redesign of the mast that holds it. It will also impact the reach of the robotic arm, which changes the ability of the Rover to retrieve soil samples for the Science subsystem. The change in mass also shifts the centre of mass, which may have an influence on the Rover’s ability to climb different slopes. For this case, the impact can be discovered immediately by the Structure team if the right formula is implemented using Valispace.
We personally really like the overall design of Valispace, being a tool that would be used permanently for systems engineers, it is simply pleasant to work with a simple interface instead of a big amount of excel and doc files. And this ease of use is not only for the comfort of the systems engineer, but it also helps him/her keep things clear and thus make less mistakes/omissions.