In the lab
BTS with our engineers
Before our robots are ready to be shipped to our customers, we put them through a bunch of testing to make sure they’re performing the best they possibly can. We sat down with Drew, one of PFF’s Software Quality Assurance Engineers and asked him all about how we test our products and what a day in his job looks like! Here’s what he had to say:
What do you and your team do here at PFF?
“I’m part of SQA which is Software Quality Assurance. We get the new software builds that come out of software development and we take that software and implement it on our devices and other machines. Once our devices are updated with the latest software, we go about testing them with our different metrics and general, standard tests so that we have information to say ‘Is this software getting better over time? Have we made improvements? Have we made fixes?’”
How do you develop your testing criteria?
“To develop our testing criteria, that's something we usually do as a team and a lot of it comes from when we get new products. So we’ll sit down and we’ll talk about what the product does, what we expect it to do, how we expect customers to use it, what are all the steps of using the product, etc. You know, some of these things require set up. Then we sit down and have a brainstorming session and come up with different general tests. Some testing we do regularly whenever new software comes out, and some tests we only do once a cycle. Other times, if some random, weird bugs come up in the latest software, we might add on to that list of testing criteria to see ‘is this occurring still? Has this been fixed?’.”
What do you look for when you run these tests?
“It depends on the test. With some specific tests where we have a checklist of things such as, ‘at this point of the process, is it doing this and behaving as we expect?’ and other times we have a test where we walk outside for a while and all we do is walk a lap. It’s usually a very general check of whether it’s doing what it’s supposed to, but sometimes there are specific metrics and tasks that we’re expecting out of the robot. ”
Have you ever uncovered something that surprised you during testing?
“Yes. Generally the surprising stuff are the bugs that we find in newer software - that’s our job is to find those bugs and dig them out before they get released. Sometimes those bugs are very niche and require very specific circumstances to come up, and that’s one of the things that makes our team special. We are very good at digging those software bugs out, reproducing the specific, weird, strage steps that happened in order for the bug to occur, and bringing that back to the software developers so they can update as needed.”
What’s your favorite part about working with gita?
“There's quite a bit of fun that we have because we can sit there and think ‘What is the customer gonna do with this? What are ways in which they might unintentionally break it?’ We can really explore the capabilities of these robots beyond what they’re supposed to do so we can definitely push the boundaries quite a bit. We catch the software bugs before any customers can get to it but if a customer did have an issue, we then test our units through the most difficult testing possible - high mileage, crazy maneuvers, uphill and downhill, etc. - so we push them to their limits.
If anything was possible, what functionality would you give gita?
“Besides the obvious to make it climb stairs, I think it’d be fun to give it some dancing robot moves. gita could definitely be capable of it. I’ve tried some software development myself but I'd love to get gita spinning in all sorts of fun ways and dance with it!”
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