TÜV certification is shifting the automotive landscape

March 30, 2018 Majeed Ahmad, Contributing Editor

The automotive electronics is shifting its emphasis from quality to safety. The increasing importance of the ISO 26262 standard is a testament to this sea change.

ISO 26262 is a derivative of the IEC 61508 electronics safety standard that has been specifically crafted for the automotive industry. The standard outlines requirements for automakers, Tier 1 manufacturers, chipmakers, EDA tool suppliers, and intellectual property (IP) providers developing functionally safe products for vehicles. It defines Automotive Safety Integrity Levels (ASILs) A through D, with ASIL A providing basic safety requirements and ASIL D offering the highest level of functional safety for vehicles.

In addition to ISO 26262, the AEC-Q102 international safety standard regulates automotive components like car LEDs.

So how does an automotive engineering organization achieve ISO 26262 or AEC-Q102 compliance, or other functional safety automotive certifications? Technischer Überwachungsverein (TÜV), a German safety monitoring agency, is a prominent entity for facilitating certifications for automotive OEMs, chipmakers, and component suppliers.

Functionally safe, from IP on up

Also known as the Technical Inspection Association, TÜV is an internationally recognized testing body that facilitates certifications for automotive electronic systems and component suppliers. Their work encompasses development process audits as well as functional safety documentation kits.

At the other end of the technology supply chain from automakers and Tier 1s, EDA tool makers and IP suppliers now proactively seek ISO 26262 compliance for their products to complement subsequent automotive system-on-chip (SoC) designs, which are increasing in size and complexity to accommodate advanced features like adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning. Cadence, for instance, has recently acquired the “Fit for Purpose - Tool Confidence Level 1 (TCL1)” certification from TÜV SÜD that supports ASIL A through ASIL D automotive designs (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Cadence provides chip designers with online access to the TÜV technical reports.

Samsung Electronics has also set up a TÜV SÜD testing program to help certify automotive LEDs. The program validates the Korean manufacturer's designs according to the requirements outlined by AEC-Q102.

Figure 2. A view of the TÜV certification program for Samsung's automotive LEDs.

Make no mistake: safety has always been a priority for the automotive industry, which has gradually incorporated safety measures such as airbags over the decades. So, why are certifications like ISO 26262 only becoming more prominent now? For a start, the electronic content of vehicles is increasing almost universally.

However, the real impetus for safety, and subsequently TÜV certification, came with the advent of the advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). In many ways, ADAS is synonymous with functional safety, and the advent of autonomous cars will take the importance of these standards to a whole new level.

Automotive developers should familiarize themselves with organizations like TÜV, because they can expect to interact with them frequently in the coming years. 

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