UK on the Road to Driverless Cars – Reflections from AESIN 2015

Nov 18, 2015 -- The annual  NMI (National Microelectronics Network)  AESIN (Automotive Electronic Systems Innovation Network) conference in the UK attracted a wide range of participants from hardware and software developers, manufacturers and Government organisations.

The first day of the 2-day conference focused on the opportunities as we increase the amount of electronics in our vehicles.  For example, John Russell of  Keysight Technologies quoted market research predicting over 220M connected cars on the road by 2020.  However, this is just part of a wider annual £900bn global international market in intelligent mobility in the same timeframe.

Tim Yerdon of  Visteon discussed how telematics in cars will create a new market for higher value services.  For example, the data created by all these connected cars will create big data analysis opportunities. However, in order to realise these markets the automotive supply chain is likely to need to change and increase collaboration especially with SMEs in order to improve both innovation and time-to-market.

The second day focused on the technical challenges that need to be addressed in order to realise that market potential.  The first point, again from  Visteon, was the need for the electronics in cars to move more towards consumer devices by, for example, breaking the interdependence between hardware and software.  However, most speakers focused on the challenges of making the electronics both safe and secure.  Safety has always been a concern in automotive development but this has brought into sharper focus through the recent publication of  ISO26262 standard.

The UK Government is playing its part by enabling the test beds that will be required by these new vehicles and services.  For example, the new A2/M2 connected corridor and the Government funding of £19m to enable three separate trials in driverless cars (in Bristol, Greenwich and one split between Coventry and Milton Keynes).  The  CCAV (Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles) was created from UK Government departments DoT and BIS due to the potential for improved safety, efficiency, mobility and productivity.  It is looking to enable and encourage research through collaboration as well creating the appropriate legal frameworks.

Leon Rosario of  Ricardo discussed electrification of the power train. He explained that in their previous development of an inverter the qualification for functional safety cost approximately £1M.  Ralph Clague, of  Intelligent Energy, discussed how they align their system design process for compliance with  IEC61508 or ISO26262 with a key point being the definition of user and safety requirements (such as H2 control, air control and power control).  The key challenge in developing fuel cell that is ISO26262 compliant is management of the safety and they don’t intend to claim to be  ASIL C or D compliant but will work with their end clients to help them achieve that.  Chris Turner of  ARM explained that their “R class” processors achieve ASIL D through both lock step and fault testing.  The ARM “A class” application-level cores deliver higher performance but only at ASIL B, so they recommend a “bigLITTLE” approach with the R class in safe-zone making final decision (at higher ASIL D).

Smart motorways have delivered better traffic management and safer driving (but at a cost of £1M per mile) and connected cars can potentially make roads even smarter.  John Russell of  Keysight Technologies  commented on the need to verify the performance of the wireless technologies during product development, design verification and production test and suggested a test mode in the chips to avoid protocol overhead during verification (e.g. setup and receive call at physical layer only via call back).  However, connectedness creates security concerns and Martin Wennberg  of  Mentor Graphicssuggested the need for secure architectures to keep ahead of hackers and DOS attacks.  Real VNC are providing technology for the use of smartphones in the connected car by accessing apps (such as navigation, parking, music and audio books) in your phone from the dashboard plus control (although the apps will be filtered to avoid Angry Birds on the M4).

Mike Bartley Founder & CEO, TVS
Mike Bartley
Founder & CEO, TVS

Mike Bartley of TVS discussed the challenge of testing software for driverless cars and other complex applications.  Mike argued that a directed testing approach will not cut it when the environment is so complex and unpredictable.  He discussed how approaches from the hardware verification domain (such as constrained random stimulus, assertions and functional coverage) can provide much higher coverage of the input space in less time with higher probability to hit the corner cases.  He also explained how these techniques can be performed within an ISO26262 framework using a Requirements Driven test and Verification approach supported by the TVS tool asureSIGN.

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