A vehicle coming off the assembly line today is a marvel of technological innovation, though much of it remains unseen by consumers. That’s because a typical car can have as many as 100 million lines of software code and upwards of 100 electronic control units.
While advanced technologies enable our vehicles to do more today than we could have imagined a few decades ago, they can also cause more safety issues if not developed properly.
Increasingly, automotive technology developers are designing safety and security into their products, guided by a growing number of specific standards.
This has always been true in automotive design and lifecycle management. But as cars become smarter and more autonomous, safety requirements and standards are evolving.
As new autonomy levels become closer to reality and enhanced 5G connectivity is upon us, 2021 is a pivotal year in the automotive standards world.
New Automotive Safety Standards
An in-depth knowledge of the evolving standards landscape is a first step for automakers and their suppliers; there are many new standards that automotive suppliers and OEMs need to keep in mind.
For example, ISO 26262 Road vehicles – Functional safety is gaining traction and provides an international standard that mandates a functional safety development process from specification through production release.
The soon-to-be-released ISO/SAE 21434 provides the automotive industry with the first standard addressing cybersecurity in vehicles.
Building upon SAE J3061, ISO/SAE 21434 sets a cybersecurity framework for road vehicles’ entire lifecycles, addressing risk management, security management, continuous cybersecurity activities, incident response, cybersecurity within the concept, product development and post-development stages of road vehicles, as well as vehicle software vulnerability lifecycle management.
Finally, due to the increased use of open-source software components in automotive systems, automotive organizations need to be aware of, and manage, the included open-source licenses. ISO/IEC 5230:2020, which provides requirements for establishing an open-source license compliance program, would serve to build trust between organizations exchanging software.
Assessing Risk With the ISO 26262 ASIL System
OEMs and suppliers follow and document a functional automotive safety development process that covers specification through production release to comply with the regulations.
The standard explains what to evaluate based on risk assessments that could impact the safety of the car and how this affects the system and its components, including the SoC and IP.
The process is based on Automotive Safety Integrity Levels (ASILs), a risk classification system, and the objective is to reduce potential hazards caused by electrical and electronic system malfunctions.
This process of determining threats and assessing risk is one of the most challenging, as threat actors do not follow prescribed methods of attacks; most build on the work of others or look for novel methods of compromising safety-critical systems. Access to outside resources can greatly enhance the overall resilience of a functional safety item.
ASIL has four different levels, each assigned based on the probability and acceptability of harm.
ASIL A is the lowest degree of automotive hazard, while ASIL D is the highest degree and the most relevant to safety-critical applications such as advanced driver-assistance systems, antilock brakes and airbags.
Organizations that can leverage functional safety knowledge will be well-prepared to address risk in the highest categories of safety.
Securing Automotive Design Tools
While the vehicle’s electronic components should comply with current standards, the tools used to develop the components must also be certified.
To address this, ISO 26262 has a section that covers tool confidence level, which is defined by tool impact and tool error detection capabilities.
By addressing these requirements, electronic design automation and IP vendors can help automotive engineers meet their functional safety objectives and certification – and with the right tools and methodologies, accelerate the “shift left” of their timelines.
For instance, automotive-grade IP provides ready-to-use building blocks that not only speed up the design process, but also help meet the stringent guidelines outlined by ISO 26262.
Some vendors also offer tools to support ASIL planning, design services and features that address “what-if” scenarios, and verification/validation solutions that verify an ASIL level has been met.
Keeping up with automotive safety standards is an evolving process. Automakers and suppliers need to seek out the best tools to help them navigate the standards landscape and ensure they are compliant.
Chris Clark (pictured above, left) is a senior manager in the Synopsys Automotive Group.