Evolving functional safety standards keep suppliers on their toes

With the industry fast developing its software-enabled vehicle connectivity, where does ZF see the future of functional safety? By Christopher Dyer

ISO 26262 remains a focus for manufacturers looking to improve a vehicle’s safety and reliability, but new developments like autonomous and software-defined vehicles demand standardization beyond pure functional safety. Updates to ISO 26262 were made as recent as 2018, which also made the standard applicable to commercial vehicle systems. However, additional measures may be needed to address the growing complexity of software. With cyber security also becoming an increasingly important part of vehicle safeguarding, some suppliers remain hesitant to invest in enhanced connectivity. A 2021 study by McKinsey found that almost 50% of suppliers were reticent to invest into autonomous vehicle (AV) technology, citing a lack of regulation and a desire for a reinforced version of the ISO 26262 safety standard to guide the industry.

Safety demands from clients, regulators and end users continue to influence the approach many suppliers adopt. ZF is one of many Tier 1s that have a purpose-built department, governing processes to develop solutions to meet the standards of both ISO 26262 and future standards and requirements. Dr Joachim Fox, Director of System Safety & Product Cyber Security at ZF, says that while ISO 26262-based processes have been established for more than a decade, there is a clear shift towards more agile development processes with faster release cycles. He suggests that safety processes are deeply integrated into the development of the continuous stream of features which are added to vehicles.

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