STAREAST 2024 Keynote : The Art of Testing Cars and Delighting Drivers

Conference archive


Thursday, May 2, 2024 - 8:30am to 9:30am

The Art of Testing Cars and Delighting Drivers

Welcome to the era of rolling autonomous death machines, also known as the era of the software-defined autonomous vehicle. As companies like Tesla have proven, modern car buyers value software driven experiences at a growing rate. No longer are cars just about horsepower but are now really about personalization, entertainment, and comfort. They are also all becoming at least semi-autonomous with level 4 autonomy coming within the decade. In this new world, continuous deployment and deep learning AI will change the user's experience with the modern vehicle. Even today, all modern cars receive software updates multiple times a year, sometimes to fix bugs and sometimes to ship improved features like automated lane change for autonomous mode. Ken will share how Ford invests in big upfront testing but still leverages Minimum Viable Quality with Testing in Production as methods to safely release and measure the quality of all updates. Complexities of extreme heat and cold, continuous vibration, and dealing with regulatory compliance, along with the risk of injury and actual death, play complex roles in test automation and regression testing strategies. Combine this with a big auto company challenging itself to compete with smaller, faster startup competitors like Tesla, Lucid, and Rivian and you will find established companies like Ford going through massive skill and culture change. Autonomous vehicles are coming quickly. Continuous Deployment and Continuous Integration are required to compete in the future. Getting software quality right is the next big challenge!


Ken Johnston is a frequent keynote presenter, trainer, blogger, and author on software testing and data science. Currently he is the CEO of and Senior Director of Cloud Platforms and Telematics for Ford Motor Company.  Prior to Ford, Ken worked for Microsoft for 25 years in various roles including Data Science Manager for the Microsoft 360 Business Intelligence Graph (M360 BIG) within Windows, GPM for Bing Local and Segments search, General Manager Office 365 Cloud Development Team, and Test Manager for Commerce Server. For two and a half years he served as the Microsoft Director of Test and Operations Excellence building the learning curriculum for both engineering disciplines. He earned his MBA from the University of Washington, is a coauthor of How We Test Software at Microsoft, and is a contributing author to Experiences of Test Automation: Case Studies of Software Test Automation. You can contact him through LinkedIn.