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Functional safety: A speed bump for autonomous cars

Posted: 22 May 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Freescale Semiconductor  ADAS  functional safety  autonomous car  AEC-Q100 

More significantly, ISO 26262 poses massive ramifications for the design and cost of fully automated cars. As the technology develops, the cost of safety often will require "redundancy" in systems, McAuslin added. But economy cars, such as Ford Focus, will only stay economical by trimming away safety redundancies while not compromising safety. This will be a neat trick.

"The ADAS software platform battle is just getting started," indicated Egil Juliussen, director of research for infotainment and ADAS at IHS Automotive. The players are just positioning themselves for future growth, he stated.

Juliussen, calling ISO 26262 "very important," sees it having "a long-term impact on software reliability over the next decade."

The concept and techniques for functional safety, represented in ISO 26262, are well established. But how different industries apply them is another story.

In a recent interview with EE Times, Michael Barr, an embedded software expert, offered the reminder that poorly designed software can kill people.

He said in a video interview, speaking of the failure of the Therac-25 radiation therapy machine in the mid-1980s and a 1991 Patriot Missile failure, "Time and time again, we heard in both cases that people were saying 'We did a lot of testing'; and they named the number of hours they did testing... But in hindsight, the lesson we learned was there were software defects, and those software defects were lethal. So, counting the number of tests, or even the kinds of testing, is not sufficient. You have to do what's called functional safety. You have to build the safety case. And we are not inventing these techniques. These techniques exist, and they have existed for some time. It's a matter of applying those."

So, where are we with the automotive industry when it comes to functional safety?

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