The SENDER Project aims to upgrade home automation and energy service, and shows how functional testing remains a vital aspect of these developments.

SENDER is a project funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme that aims to develop the next generation of energy service applications for demand response (DR) and home automation. It is a collaborative project gathering several organisations including companies, co-operative, associations and universities, and Smart Innovation Norway is the project co-ordinator. An essential aspect of SENDER is the functional testing of the developed solutions to ensure that they meet their objectives and provide a high-quality user experience.

SENDER validation framework

Functional testing ensures that applications function as intended. It ensures that the generated software fits the requirements and performs properly under a variety of scenarios. This is vital to ensure that the energy service applications provide the expected services and benefits to users.

Functional testing ensures that the developed services can handle a variety of scenarios and will continue to work reliably over time. Functional testing also contributes to the delivery of a dependable and user-friendly product. Users are more likely to have a pleasant experience when applications perform as intended, which is especially crucial in consumer-oriented projects like SENDER that target home automation and DR.

For the functional testing in SENDER, a dedicated validation environment has been developed. This has enabled the deployment of various scenarios for testing the system’s response to different orders of DR. It integrates all the required components based on the selected test cases, tying together the SENDER solution with hardware prototypes and simulation tools for emulating the external environment.

The global solution’s layer of decision-making when a DR order from a utility is received and directed towards the SENDER solution was created in partnership with the SENDER technology vendors. This has allowed for laboratory-scale testing and validation of the SENDER solution and associated components using a controller hardware-in-the-loop approach with simulated demand repose signals generated by the validation environment.

The tests were designed and carried out in such a way that they provide comprehensive coverage of the functions and an analysis of the dependencies of the developed solution.

The validation environment has been deployed with the help of a dedicated shared working environment for system integration and testing called VLab Central, which is developed, hosted, and maintained by the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology.

VLab Central provides virtualised working environments and allows the deployment of containerised services that can be accessed either via a local network (LAN) or remotely via a virtual private network (VPN).