“Safe Software” Now The Table Stakes For Suppliers To Electric Vehicles

Friday, May 20, 2022

#Functional Safety    #Automotive SPICE    #Automotive Agile

In 2021, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHT HT -1.7%SA) essentially reopened a 2017 investigation into the continuing and numerous fire incidents involving electric vehicles. Amongst other aspects, the investigation will include the roles of battery management systems, operating systems, system diagnostics, failure prognostics, cybersecurity and overall intervention; all of which are (pardon the pun) driven by software.

AdobeStock_213114519Given rising liability insurance, safety concerns and electric vehicle competition, the new normal for automotive manufacturers is to require upfront engineering rigor to minimize risk and clean-up costs.

Subsequently, the marketplace has changed significantly. Insurance underwriters have noted the risks of functional safety and cybersecurity, manufacturers have increased their due diligence and table stakes for any supplier is proof of engineering rigor. "After 'What is your name and how are you doing', the first questions these days are 'What is your functional safety level and Automotive SPICE capability?'" states Dr. Umut Genc, Chief Executive Officer of Eatron, a producer of connected management system software, including battery management systems.

"And after that whole conversation they make it to algorithms, because if you don't have these standards in place, what you have is only an exciting demonstration. Manufacturers and Tier 1's need solutions – not demo's – to include in their 2023 or 2024 models. They want to be sure that you're a partner for series production; not just for advanced engineering or concepts."

"The Product Liability Insurance market has climbed significantly in the past few years," explains an insurance brokerage executive that connects corporations and underwriters. "Due to a lack of historical data on many of these providers of electric and/or autonomous systems and software, underwriters cannot easily extrapolate as to the risk of insuring a company."

As expected, understanding and unearthing the almighty dollar uncovers a shift in behavior. "There absolutely has been a culture change," Genc injects firmly. "I have been in automotive since 1998, and it used to be entirely about fuel economy and emissions. In the past ten years, the safety culture has really transformed; maybe because electric vehicles have us sitting near 800 or 1000V. As an automotive engineer, I see that mentality shifted because we had to: there's no way to include all of this technology without talking about safety."


"Our customers, OEMs and suppliers, have not only asked for a small footprint, enabling a heterogeneous supply-chain and flexible ecosystem, but have especially required bringing automotive grade quality for safety and reliability," confirms RTI's Director of Automotive, Pedro Lopez Estepa.


Achieving the ultimate goal of sufficient safety for our collective grandmothers and children seems to the non-automotive bystander as an obvious must, but global resources have been an issue. "The industry-wide, key problem is the lack of expertise in functional safety and engineering quality standards like Automotive SPICE. And so more often what we see are customers' Safety Goals being half-complete. Software suppliers like us need the complete functional safety concept since the systems engineering decomposes to software requirements. And so when a manufacturer has four or five experts trying to support twenty programs, that becomes a bottleneck."


This article was originally published by Steve Tengler (steve.tengler@kuglermaag.com) on Forbes.com on May, 10, 2022.





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