META / CyPhy Overview

Model-Based System Design, Analysis, and Verification Technologies

The CyPhy tool suite (developed under the META program) made numerous advances in model-based system design with a focus on compressing the development lifecycle for complex defense systems. At the core of the tool suite is a generic modeling environment (GME) that can represent, transform, and integrate the numerous types of models and analysis used in the design and development of complex defense systems. This modeling environment enables the CyPhy tool suite to accomplish compositional design, trade space analysis and virtual performance testing in an extendable framework that can integrate tools ranging from robust commercial and open-source numerical simulations to cutting-edge research prototypes. CyPhy has been under evaluation since January 2013 through multiple design exercises. During these design events, teams worked to design drivetrain, suspension, propulsion, chassis, and structural elements and associated subsystems for an amphibious IFV. DARPA has built a Mobility and Chassis Automotive Test Rig (ATR), designed with the tools) in the iFAB Foundry to complete the 'end-to-end' design/develop/build/test process flow. Insights gleaned from this effort are being used to inform further CyPhy development efforts to integrate new design methodologies, consider more difficult physics domains, and validate virtual design, modeling, and simulation tools.

The expected result from a complete tool set is a revolutionary leap in the design of complex cyber-physical systems, similar in manner to the way previous government and industrial investments revolutionized the design and manufacture of integrated circuits. AVM's goal of five-fold compression in development, design, and build time - compared to state-of-the-art practice - depended on the development of specific new capabilities. The goals of the CyPhy tool suite development effort were:

  • Support design flow through levels of abstraction with early, incremental, and continuous analysis of designs and design spaces that enable system designers to efficiently navigate the design trade-space. The tools compute physics-based simulations in order to map variations in static design features to dynamic behavioral trade-offs as measured against a set of operational requirements.
  • Provide system and subsystem verification at different levels of abstraction. This minimizes the need to rework a design due to flaws found late in the development cycle. An important advance is a formal stochastic Probabilistic Certificate of Correctness (PCC) that incorporates uncertainty analysis - variations in manufacturing, uncertainty in modeling, and uncertainty in the operational environment. This probabilistic analysis ensures that vehicles designed using these tools robustly meet requirements when manufactured and deployed.
  • Enable semantic integration through the lifecycle, including ontology-indexed component model libraries; compositional design tools; design verification tools; and the generation of detailed manufacturing directives spanning machine instructions, human work instructions, and logistics flow. This semantic integration ensures a seamless and coherent design flow.

Whereas current state-of-the-art Computer Aided Design (CAD)-centric design tools encourage assembly of physical subsystem prototypes that are guided by derived system-level requirements but developed in isolation, CyPhy implements a compositional design approach that enables designers to consider the behavior of the whole system design in multiple domains throughout the design process. This ability emerges from the compositional nature of AVM component model representations of physical parts. The CyPhy tool suite is able to reason about the geometry and behavior of an assembled system by aggregating the behavioral models of each component in all of the relevant domains (i.e., physical, thermal, vibrational, electro-magnetic, etc.).

You can read more about each of the AVM Program Elements by following the corresponding links to the left.

The source code for the tool suite is also available by following the 'FILES' link to the left. There are several versions of the tools available for download and use.

For more information on these programs, please visit the DARPA website.

Note: The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.