DRA uses a systems engineering approach to all engineering disciplines. The lead engineers work with the customer to fully understand their requirements, goals, constraints, and priorities of the project. Next, trade studies are performed to understand alternative solutions to develop a detailed design for the system. In many cases, interacting subsystems strongly affect one another and DRA finds a balanced solution that optimizes system performances and cost as part of these trade studies. The system design is partitioned into the appropriate engineering disciplines needed to produce a prototype. A prototype of the design is implemented and tested through unit, subsystem, and system level testing. Ultimately, the performance of the system is verified by demonstrating the system in a relevant environment. The customer is involved throughout the process to ensure the implementation of an efficient, effective and high-quality solution.
DRA has developed a one of a kind Systems Integration Laboratory (SIL) with both custom software and hardware to enable hardware/software integration testing in a static free and environmentally controlled workspace. Work surfaces are covered with properly grounded anti-static mats, the carpet and seats are specially designed with antistatic properties and are properly grounded, and the lab has its own thermostat and HVAC system. Custom computers were built that have the ability to either record live sensor data, or playback previously recorded sensor data. The SIL also features various connections to the outside. A VHF antenna is on the roof to allow DRA personnel to monitor and communicate with flight testing activities. Two GPS antennas are installed on the roof, one is a passive antenna for the INS in use by DRA, and the other is for GPS time synchronization for recording live sensor data.