A continuous-time model of an autonomous aerial vehicle to inform and validate formal verification methods

Murray L. Ireland, Ruth Hoffmann, Alice Miller, Gethin Norman, Sandor M. Veres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


If autonomous vehicles are to be widely accepted, we need to ensure their safe operation. For this reason, verification and validation (V&V) approaches must be developed that are suitable for this domain. Model checking is a formal technique which allows us to exhaustively explore the paths of an abstract model of a system. Using a probabilistic model checker such as PRISM, we may determine properties such as the expected time for a mission, or the probability that a specific mission failure occurs. However, model checking of complex systems is difficult due to the loss of information during abstraction. This is especially so when considering systems such as autonomous vehicles which are subject to external influences. An alternative solution is the use of Monte Carlo simulation to explore the results of a continuous-time model of the system. The main disadvantage of this approach is that the approach is not exhaustive as not all executions of the system are analysed. We are therefore interested in developing a framework for formal verification of autonomous vehicles, using Monte Carlo simulation to inform and validate our symbolic models during the initial stages of development. In this paper, we present a continuous-time model of a quadrotor unmanned aircraft undertaking an autonomous mission. We employ this model in Monte Carlo simulation to obtain specific mission properties which will inform the symbolic models employed in formal verification.
Original languageEnglish
JournalArXiv e-prints
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Mar 2018


  • Control
  • Autonomy
  • Unmanned vehicle
  • Monte Carlo simulation
  • Quantitative formal verification


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