Research project aims at avoiding errors in the design of safety-critical components

September 06, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Automated lane-keeping, brake assist systems and other highly complex microelectronic systems in vehicles are already reducing the number of serious traffic accidents. The increasing number and complexity of such safety systems makes tremendous demands on the hardware and software components from the different suppliers – and means that the development of the safety systems and their components need to be better aligned. This is the purpose of the “VeTeSS” project, headed by chipmaker Infineon. VeTeSS, which stands for “Verification and Test Support for Safety Standards,” is working on standardized, reliable and cost-effective development methods to help avoid errors in subcomponents leading to the malfunction of the entire safety system. 

The objective of the VeTeSS project is to prepare new automated processes for safety system and subcomponent development in accordance with ISO 26262. With VeTeSS, procedures for the reliability and performance testing in the design phase of the safety system and subcomponents will be standardized for the first time.

This will enable engineers to correct errors at an earlier development stage and further improve the quality and durability of the electrical and electronic safety systems in the vehicle. What is more, the risk of error will be reduced during the certification process that is typically required to prove the efficiency of the safety system. 

Introduced at the end of 2011, the ISO 26262 standard is intended to assure the functionality of the increasingly complex electrical and electronic systems responsible for safety-related functions in vehicles. The standard defines the requirements of the safety functions in the vehicle and includes guidelines for the development process. Modern semiconductor technologies improve system performance and the energy efficiency of electronic control units in vehicles. In addition, they facilitate the use of increasingly small transistors and thus more intelligent systems. 

However, growing complexity increases the risk of design errors during the development process. That is why it is necessary to test and verify the electronic systems and their subcomponents throughout this phase. So far, each manufacturer developed its own individual in-house methods. The ISO standard 26262 however stipulates a standard and automated test method, which is now being developed by the VeTeSS partners. This will also make it possible for subcomponents to be certified individually or in connection with a specific overall system and then integrated into different systems, such as electrical power steering, electronic stability control or anti-lock braking systems., an internationally recognized certification body, will share its know-how during the implementation of the ISO 26262, and will make the VeTeSS results usable for industrial applications. The IIS-Design Automation Division EAS