Test automation applications
Test automation is a powerful and effective way to save time during testing.
There are a number of levels at which test automation may be implemented, depending on your needs.
Test automation methods
Often, at the simplest level, test automation may involve writing simple scripts to repeatedly run and evaluate tests. These tests are often looking at the functional behaviour of software systems, such as embedded control systems.
By creating scripts that are repeatable, can be documented and can be stored, it is possible to repeat these tests at a point in the future to see whether system performance has changed. This is known as regression testing.
Creating scripts that are compatible with real-time systems introduces new challenges in terms of responsiveness, repeatability and accuracy. Imagine a system that is measuring a 2Hz flashing indicator lamp that only samples every second – it just wont work!
Methodologies are available to improve this situation by using specific real-time test automation solutions, sometimes in conjunction with hardware dedicated to high-speed or special function tests.
Wider scope for automation testing
As systems become more fully-featured, and thus functionally more complex, it is also important to test different abstracted levels of the system, such as the software model, the I/O, the interface wiring, and so on.
Such systems can perform the same abstracted tests on the controller model, enabling you to reuse the same test cases throughout the development cycle.
Automatic test equipment (ATE)
It is sometimes necessary, in production test environments, to perform dedicated automatic test set-ups for manufacturing test purposes.
Using a combination of technologies, such as intelligent I/O hardware and real-time scripting, ATE systems can be created to produce robust reliable manufacturing test systems.
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