Functional Safety Standards Top Priority For Future Automotive Deployment

Functional Safety Standards Top Priority For Future Automotive Deployment

Technology August 2020 Functional Safety Standards Top Priority Future Automotive Deployment

Increasing levels of electronic content in vehicles result in a large amount of software that is required to run the scenes behind the mechanical aspects of a vehicle

Electronic systems in automobiles are part of every section, from the powertrain to comfort and convenience systems as well as all types of safety equipment. This makes electronics and the software running these systems a critical part of the equation for future mobility solutions. In addition, putting standards in place to measure methods of developing, testing and functioning of such electronic systems also becomes highly relevant.


Standards play a key role in bringing all stakeholders onto a level playing field in any industry, and this holds good for the automotive electronics space as well. The standards of ISO 26262 and SAE J3061 cater to the development of electrical and electronic (E/E) systems as well as to cyber security, respectively, and play a critical role in the development of electronic systems for the automotive sector, with a bias towards safety systems. ISO 26262 is applicable to E/E safety-focussed systems that are intended to be features in mass-production passenger cars with a maximum gross vehicle weight of up to 3,500 kg.

Meanwhile, the SAE J3061 standard provides guidelines related to vehicle cyber security. This is especially important as connected vehicles are being deployed across the globe, and are witnessing growing trends of being targets of cyber security attacks. SAE J3061 provides a methodology to design and develop cyber security into automotive systems in a comprehensive and systematic manner. It enables these systems to monitor as well as respond to incidents in the field, and to address vulnerabilities in service and operation. The standard’s unique quality lies in its ability to map a process framework for cyber security that any company can customise along with its development processes.

The unique feature about ISO 26262 is that it directly deals with safety standards when compared to other traditional standards. Meanwhile, SAE J3061 focusses on the code-level safety, thereby enabling secure coding practices that ensure the codes are not vulnerable to attacks. In addition, it has been observed that the auto industry has adopted multiple safety-related practices from the aerospace sector.

The second edition of the ISO 26262 safety standard provides a process that guides users on the assessment of potential threats that could crop up throughout the vehicle lifecycle. However, SAE J3061 is mostly a system-level guidance, which proves the point that safety and security are one and the same at the software level. The independent benefits of each of these standards are now brought together in the form of a joint working group of ISO and SAE for a collaborative standard. The joint standard, ISO/SAE 21434, is expected to focus on cyber security engineering for road vehicles.

The adoption of standards also enables OEMs and suppliers to offer products and solutions that are in line with international requirements


Harish Balasubramanian, Marketing Research Manager, LDRA, said standards bodies play a vital role in ensuring that India becomes pioneers in developing and implementing safe & secure products for future generations. In the arena of electric vehicles (EV) certification, multiple process standards have been adopted, but even international organisations are struggling to come up with a unified process standard that will be accepted globally. He said there are multiple process standards for the hardware equipment and the supporting charging infrastructure and added that one should not forget the fact that any EV is a co-engineered and co-functioning of complex software working in tandem with hardware.

The adoption of standards also enables OEMs and suppliers to offer products and solutions that are in line with international requirements. Especially in the automotive space, this means local manufacturers can end up exporting their vehicles, components and technologies to countries that are considered to be ahead of their own. The deployment of standards also results in improved forms of traceability, in order to be able to address liabilities arising out of incidents to the appropriate sources.

There is a need for automotive software to comply with functional safety guidelines to ensure a secured environment for vehicles to operate


Vehicles can be hacked, or attacked digitally not only when they are completely autonomous, but even when a driver is present in the vehicle. This is mainly due to the nature of vehicles getting increasingly connected to each other as well as to the overall infrastructure. Within the connected environment, there have been incidents of hacking into the vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) system by drivers who intend to control traffic lights. This requires a safe and secure infrastructure system that can authenticate and validate instructions.

In the case of autonomous driving, human intervention may be possible even in the case of vehicles featuring Level 3 and Level 4 autonomy, while being hacked. However, in a Level 5, fully-autonomous vehicle, there is no means for the driver to take control at all, leading a hacker to be able to remotely control the vehicle.

Other important updates coming up within the scope of ADAS and autonomous vehicles concerning functional and embedded safety are cyber security and Safety of the Intended Functionality (SOTIF). Cyber security is being addressed since the new ISO standard refers to it, with regulations in the US asking OEMs to take cyber security into account. Meanwhile, the SOTIF standard currently addresses ADAS but not autonomous vehicles, but will include future work of scope in the direction of autonomous vehicles.

Vehicles can be hacked, or attacked digitally not only when they are completely autonomous, but even when a driver is present in the vehicle


Any process standard input is not complete unless it is passed as a regulation and is being implemented by regulators with minimal leeway to the product development environment, noted Balasubramanian. Achieving this by an OEM or a product development company would only be possible with a right set of technology and service providers and active contribution from professional and industry bodies, he said. Further, automakers should ensure that any data going into the system does not end up being misused or manipulated, with the growing demand for connected cars. While the connected car technology and ADAS are being adopted extensively in global markets, a large number of vehicles on Indian roads might make it difficult to monitor the enormous volume of data that is being generated.

The implementation of standards for automotive functional safety begins with the key procedures one needs to follow in being compliant to these standards. The rapid advancements in automotive electronics and increased probability of hardware failures in modern automobiles make standards like ISO 26262 an obligatory feature. Therefore, it is important for automotive software to comply with functional safety guidelines to ensure a secured environment for vehicles to operate.

The efficient achievement of functional safety objectives requires a formalised, requirements-driven software development process, which allows experienced engineers to review the final requirements to ensure that they are complete and unambiguous. To address security threats in vehicles of the future, security-related projects need to adopt the techniques that are proven to be effective at producing ‘good’ code. It should be noted that a lower number of residual defects will be present if a coding standard is enforced within the framework of a robust software development process. As vehicles become more networked, data management will become a critical component right from the conceptualisation stage, and automotive manufacturers need to understand the seriousness of having networked car components and take security measures accordingly. Such security flaws are seen to be growing as cars are getting increasingly automated.

(Inputs from LDRA, International Organisation for Standardisation)

TEXT: Naveen Arul