LDRA Technology Pvt Ltd provides tools to industries in helping them achieve regulatory standards in the area of software engineering. The company recently hosted the annual Embedded Safety & Security Summit with its partners, covering safety and security in the embedded systems space. On the side-lines of the event, we met with Dr Mike Hennell, Founder and Technical Director, LDRA UK and Shinto Joseph, Director – South East Asia Operations, LDRA India. The interaction covered software safety and security, challenges in software engineering, and LDRA India’s increasing level of contribution to global operations.
ESSS & AUTOMOTIVE SOLUTIONS
The third edition of Embedded Safety & Security Summit (ESSS) was organised around the theme ‘Are we secured to be safe?’ and brought together the embedded systems industry to discuss safety and security. The summit saw the participation of experts from various industries, government representatives and regulators, who shared thoughts on the need for addressing safety and security when developing systems for mission-critical markets.
Joseph said that the summit has been positioned as an industry event that is part of a larger initiative, which is called certification ecosystem development programme, which aims at bringing in an ecosystem in India to certify products. The event brings together various stakeholders, while acting as a learning platform for various safety and security-related solutions for the embedded systems industry. The beauty of the automotive industry is that there are certain software standards that need to be addressed, and LDRA fits very neatly into those standards, said Dr Hennell. LDRA’s role is built into making it easy for technology suppliers to satisfy set standards by providing information to regulators in an understandable manner. It helps customers in identifying the documents that must be presented to regulatory bodies, along with the type of information and technical details needed, so as to be acceptable. This structured approach also makes the process better for regulators, since the document structure is easily-recognisable and is simple to check.
LDRA helps in finding defects in the software that lead to unwanted outcomes, thereby providing evidence for regulatory authorities to track the defects in software down to code level. He added that a standard that is effective in the automotive industry is ISO 26262, which is increasingly important, since the automotive industry is applying software to complex applications like driverless cars and autonomous driving.
The main problem is that there is lack of knowledge among programmers, on understanding the programming languages they are using, as well as identifying limitations, Dr Hennell said. He added that one of the ways of understanding programming languages better is by looking at the MISRA C and MISRA C++ coding standards, which are designed for writing codes correctly to the subsets of the general languages.
Joseph said that standardisation of software security for the automotive industry has been put into place very recently. The challenge is that customers like OEMs and Tier-1 suppliers demand engineering companies to supply software conforming to newer regulations. These challenges can be addressed by improving the writing of new code, as well as correcting and updating issues experienced in existing code.
With relevance to recent cases of accountability becoming a concern when accidents or issues are caused due to errors or failures in embedded systems, Dr Hennell said that LDRA has been supportive of the approach of the Motor Industry Software Reliability Association (MISRA). This is an organisation that produces guidelines for the software developed for electronic components used in the automotive industry. MISRA consists of collaboration between vehicle manufacturers, component suppliers and engineering consultancies.
Some international automotive OEMs have approached MISRA and informed them of their suppliers’ claims to be MISRA-compliant without confirmation of the same, explained Dr Hennell. He said a mechanism is being set into place whereby requirements being passed down to suppliers have to include details of the standards that are to be imposed, as well as their allowed deviations.
LDRA provides general solutions to problems arising within the sphere of software safety, security and accuracy. Joseph said that at times, especially in the case of semiconductor OEMs, there is a need to address specific challenges. In the Indian automotive scenario, end-customers are yet to understand the importance and value of safety in the areas of electronics, as well as body structure, he added.
Dr Hennell said LDRA India is growing faster than the other businesses of the company in the UK and the US, because the company can employ technically sound talent for significantly lower costs, as well as instil the culture of quality fairly easily. Joseph noted that India as a location is also in a unique position, since a lot of development work around new-generation devices comes here, and Bangalore is close to all major technology players. He concluded that LDRA’s tools cannot work in isolation, but need to be integrated with the work of other technology companies, which helps in creating complete synergy.
TEXT: Naveen Arul