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High-Tech Vehicles Need High-Tech ISO Standard

ISO 26262—“Road vehicles—Functional safety” promotes automotive-safety life cycle

Published: Monday, January 16, 2012 - 11:53

(ISO: Geneva) -- As vehicles become more complex, with new features like driver assistance systems or electronic-based functions, it is more important than ever to identify potential risks of software and hardware failures whose consequences could be fatal. For this purpose, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published a new standard to ensure the functional safety of electrical and electronic systems in road vehicles.

The new standard, ISO 26262—“Road vehicles—Functional safety”:
• Provides and supports an automotive safety life cycle (i.e., management, development, production, operation, service, decommissioning)
• Outlines an automotive-specific, risk-based approach (automotive safety integrity levels)
• Helps avoid unreasonable residual risk
• Can be used to validate and confirm safety levels
• Provides requirements for relations with suppliers

“Safety is one of the key issues of future automobile development, and it affects all technologies, whether mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, electronic, and so on,” says Nicolas Becker, project leader of the group that developed the standard. “With more and more electronic-based systems integrated into cars, the need increases to ensure that any potential failures are averted or mitigated, so as to avoid any harm. There is a need for safe system-development processes, and for the ability to provide evidence that all system safety goals are satisfied. The new ISO 26262 helps the industry do just that.”

ISO 26262 is the adaptation of IEC 61508—“Functional safety of electrical/electronic/programmable electronic safety-related system” to the specific requirements of passenger cars and light utility vehicles. ISO 26262 can be used for all activities applying to the life cycle of safety-related systems involving electrical or electronic software, during the development, production, management, and service processes.

The standard consists of several parts, published in 2011, as follows:
• Part 1: Vocabulary
• Part 2: Management of functional safety
• Part 3: Concept phase
• Part 4: Product development at the system level
• Part 5: Product development at the hardware level
• Part 6: Product development at the software level
• Part 7: Production and operation
• Part 8: Supporting processes
• Part 9: Automotive safety integrity level (ASIL)-oriented and safety-oriented analyses

ISO 26262—“Road vehicles—Functional safety” was developed by the ISO/TC 22—“Road vehicles” subcommittee SC 3—“Electrical and electronic equipment.” It is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details) and through the ISO Store.


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The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards. ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of 162 countries, one member per country, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system. ISO is a nongovernmental organization that forms a bridge between the public and private sectors. ISO enables a consensus to be reached on solutions that meet both the requirements of business and the broader needs of society. View the ISO Standards list.