Having recently read the great essay Software Is Hard (via Bill) a quote in a recent story of a robot cannon killing 9 and wounding 14 South African soldiers caught my eye:
Other reports have suggested a computer error might have been to blame. Defence pundit Helmoed-RÃ¶mer Heitman told the Weekend Argus that if â€œthe cause lay in computer error, the reason for the tragedy might never be found.“
Now I’m amazed and surprised by this. Even if he is incorrect and it was a hardware failure one would have thought that a device like this would have a solid state audit trail and code log of its actions that could be used to retrospectively identify the hardware/software fault. If not, you have to wonder who is designing the software and audit/control interfaces for these guns. They can, after all fire 500 rounds/min (per barrel)
The human cost of this tragedy was high. An example of how complex software interfaces can end up costing a company billions is the recent Airbus A380 PLM disaster. In this case software incompatibilities between different versions of the Catia CAD software used by the various Airbus teams resulted in wiring bundles, totaling 300 miles in length, that were too short to fit the dimensions of the plane. The end result was a two year delay to the release of the A380, costing Airbus billions in lost revenue.
There you go, something to keep you all on your toes for Friday afternoon. Remember, never commit anything on a Friday afternoon unless you are working on Saturday!
Oh, has anyone out there actually read Dreaming In Code? Just wondering if it’s worth the purchase…