By Joe of Test Reactor and GC Gamers Connect
This weeks episode of Test Reactor we talked about giant robotic combat. Since I took the reigns on this weeks QA Hipster, Ben asked me to write an article on testing Giant Robots. While we usually test software side, testing hardware can be a fun means of testing and trying your hands at something different and new.
I don't have a lot of experience personally testing giant robots. While I do have a lot of knowledge in the area from tons of nerdy research, hands on experience is something I lack. But I do have a good helping of experience in auto mechanics. Which can be paralleled to robotics in a manner of speaking. A lot of the concepts are the same. Performance requirements, performance testing, usability, Security, Interface, Controls. All these are points of testing in which we can take a look at.
Why are we testing giant robot combat? First of all giant robots are freaking awesome. Hollywood, Japanese Anime, and television have brought us many different robotic combat inspired shows. Machines attacking machines. From transformers, to zoids, to battlebots these combat robot shows have inspired great engineering feats.
Recently the USA based company called Megabot raised 1.8 million on kickstarter to build a robot designed for combat. This 15-foot-tall behemoth is an impressive site. The goal was to create a combat robot to inspire other companies to build similar robots to fight in a new robot sport competition.
In japan a company called Suidobashi Heavy Industries had a similar concept with a giant human piloted robot. Their current robot Kuratas is an impressive marvel of technology. This was the first human piloted robot.
The Megabot team challenged Suidobashi Heavy Industries to a robot duel challenge.
Above is The Challenge
Suidobashi Heavy Industries has responded
Above is The Response.
While this is an exciting time for giant robots how would you go about testing one of these behemoths. Our friends over at BugHuntress have a really good article on “How Does One Actually Test A Giant Battle-Robot?”
I will be taking a look at different areas of testing. Similar to test driven development where you develop test plans from the design stand point prior to development.
Before we have a robot to test we have to develop said robot. We begin by first looking at the performance requirements of the robot we are going to test. Most of the time for combat based robots we look at the competition requirements. In the case of BattleBots the rules were lined up pretty well. (You can look at the rules here) However these rules cover remote controlled combat robots. Not the massive piloted combat robots that we are looking to test.
The basic performance requirements of a giant combat robot would be something that is mobile, versatile. Depending on the type of robot we want to use if we want a fast mobile robot, or do we want a slow strong robot. The two concepts would work well together, a fast robot that is also strong robot we must look at weight possibilities. Usually a lot of armor means a lot of weight. Which can be difficult to move quickly.
Speaking of mobility will the robot be a walker or a wheeled robot. perhaps a combination of both. Currently legged robots aren’t as fast as wheeled robots. Perhaps with a bit of experience and technology increases the speed of legged robots will increase and create faster means of mobility.
Next we want to determine the type of robot we want as far as a ranged based robot with lots of guns, or do we want a melee monster designed for close combat. With a ranged based robot, quick moving to get into a good shooting position is critical. A melee robot would break down a few other options as well. Do you want a grabber pincher robot that grabs its opponents, or do you want a sword and shield type robot that has a strong hitter.
Once we determine the type of robot we can begin to see pilot requirements. Do we need one pilot with a good user UI or will we need two pilots. Now that we are looking at the human factor we also need to look at the safety requirements of this. After All pilots are probably expensive and hard to come by. So we want to protect them as much as possible.
Now that we have the basis for the performance requirements we start the production of said combat robot. Throughout the production of said robot we will look for faults and points of failure throughout. Making sure to test it under pressure and in different circumstances.
So, looking at performance requirements, Looking at the needs or desires of the type of robot you want we can see a lot of different areas that need to be tested. Many areas will pop up as the development continues.
QA Hipster is a Quality Assurance Technical Lead for an software company, mostly working with Macs. I have been in the field since September 2013, and have a bachelor's degree in Management Information Services. I started my studies at Iowa State in Software Engineering. I have been working on moving my company forward with the latest QA techniques.