Developing driverless cars with safety in mind

Everyone’s talking about testing and safety of Autonomous vehicles, from design through production and evaluation – all well before the general public get into production vehicles – but who does this, and how?

Functional Safety is the automotive industry’s answer. Developed from the pioneering work on safety that evolved through the US space programme, the main standard for the automotive sector is ISO 26262, the second edition of which will be released in late 2017.

John Birch is Chief Engineer for Functional Safety at Horiba Mira.

I caught up briefly with the very busy but charming John Birch, Chief Engineer for Functional Safety at Horiba Mira, who will be leading a special ½ day workshop on Functional Safety Considerations for ADAS and Autonomous Vehicles at OAMTC Teesdorf on 28 July.

You’re with us in Austria talking about Functional Safety with Autonomous Vehicles – why is that important, even for people new to the area?

Even for a prototype vehicle used in a controlled environment there are functional safety considerations that should be evaluated and addressed.

These should addressed in a documented safety case that can be reviewed and assessed by the relevant stakeholders. What is important is to be able to tailor the ISO 26262 standard to the vehicle systems and use cases of interest to ensure a safety case that adds maximum value.

Can’t everything be picked up in the testing of the system after it’s complete?

System test is an important piece of the jigsaw but would never be considered to be sufficient due to the infinite number of cases to be considered. A solid basis for developing the safety requirements upon which the testing can be founded is crucial.

What do you think about the Self Driving Track Days project – is community outreach important?

Absolutely. Many of the safety-related considerations of autonomous vehicles have an ethical element that will need to be informed by forming and gauging the views of the general public.


Join us at OAMTC Teesdorf to attend the workshop, with a general Introduction to functional safety, Introduction to ISO 26262; Lifecycle, Safety Management, Concept Phase, System Development, Hardware and Software Development and Specific functional safety considerations for ADAS and autonomy.