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Functional safety pushed for autonomous cars

21 May 2014  | Junko Yoshida

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Paul Colestock, director of segment marketing at GlobalFoundries, recently told EE Times that the industry-wide discussions on how best to comply with ASIL, a process described in the ISO 26262, have only begun. Every component, ranging from foundries to chips, chip modules, and software, needs to be certified to meet a specific ASIL level, he says.

It's far from clear how each will respond to the demand, and if there will be any division of labour that allows each segment to meet certain aspects of ISO 26262. Freescale's McAuslin explains that, while there is now no such division, each supplier is expected to put ISO-aware product and process in place. Tier 1s, which integrate the system. need to know the ASIL of each component and software and will eventually work with OEMs for approval.

The ASIL classification helps define safety requirements necessary to the ISO 26262 standard. ASIL is established by performing a risk analysis of a potential hazard by looking at the severity, exposure, and controllability of the vehicle-operating scenario. The safety goal for that hazard in turn carries the ASIL requirements. There are four ASILs identified by the standard: ASIL A, B, C, and D. ASIL D dictates the highest integrity requirements on the product.

Smart move

So, could the stringent ISO 26262 functional safety standard trip up certain chip vendors? It will, without plans for building a comprehensive ADAS system that involves everyone in the supply chain.

Jeremy Carlson, senior analyst for ADAS Automotive Technology at IHS, calls Freescale's partnership a "smart" move. He explained that Freescale's platform combines pieces of the supply chain into an off-the-shelf solution while allowing for continued development or customisation after sale, should the customer prefer it.

"One key element of this," says Carlson, "is enabling visibility," or keeping transparency for technology developers. The ADAS system is still a market segment enabled by nascent technologies. It's necessary to allow technology developers "to continue development," instead of supplying them "a sort of black-box solution, which isn't easily altered."

On the one hand, the black box is a preferable approach, because some car OEMs or Tier 1s "won't have the expertise to further develop on that platform even if they wanted to," he says. However, the black-box approach could "keep cost down since there's no need for other components like a development environment."

On the other hand, the open approach (e.g., Freescale's announced partnership), which includes a development environment and other related tools, means capable customers can simply use this as a development platform to continue working on customisation or differentiation, Carlson told us. "That it also works as an off-the-shelf solution means the Freescale partnership is more flexible to serve more types of clients, though that may necessitate a higher average price as well, given the extra tools and flexibility."

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