I haven't checked out the reference at the end of this, but even if it
isn't true, it is a good story for teaching.
I wonder if the simulation was coded in Ada? <-- Ada content
Daniel McDonough Team Ada
[log in to unmask]
Careless code recycling causes killer kangas --
Mutant Marsupials Take Up Arms Against Australian Air Force
The reuse of some object-oriented code had caused tactical headaches for
Australia's armed forces.
As virtual reality simulators assume larger roles in helicopter combat
training, programmers have gone to great lengths to increase the realism
of their scenarios, including detailed landscapes and -- in the case of
the Northern Territory's Operation Phoenix -- herds of kangaroos (since
disturbed animals might well give away a helicopter's position).
The head of the Defense Science & Technology Organization's
LandOperations/Simulation division reportedly instructed developers to
model the local marsupials' movements and reactions to helicopters.
Being efficient programmers, they just re-appropriated some code
originally used to model infantry detachment reactions under the same
stimuli, changed the mapped icon from a soldier to a kangaroo, and
increased the figures' speed of movement. Eager to demonstrate their
flying skills for some visiting American pilots, the hotshot Aussies
"buzzed" the virtual kangaroos in low flight during a simulation.
The kangaroos scattered, as predicted, and the visiting Americans nodded
appreciatively....then did a double-take as the kangaroos reappeared from
behind a hill and launched a barrage of Stinger missiles at the helpless
helicopter. (Apparently the programmers had forgotten to remove THAT part
of the infantry coding.)
The lesson? Objects are defined with certain attributes, and any new
object defined in terms of an old one inherits all the attributes. The
embarrassed programmers had learned to be careful when reusing
object-oriented code, and the Yanks left with a newfound respect for
Simulator supervisors report that pilots from that point onward have
strictly avoided kangaroos, just as they were meant to.
From June 15, 1999 _Defense Science and Technology
Organization Lecture series_, Melbourne, Australia, and staff reports.
Item taken from _Software Testing and Quality
Engineering_ magazine, Volume 1, Issue 6