Risk-driven systems engineering for vehicle resilience

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As road transport becomes increasingly shared, connected, intelligent, automated and electrified, it must enter a new age of systems engineering complexity.

As road transport becomes increasingly shared, connected, intelligent, automated and electrified, it must enter a new age of systems engineering complexity.

Much as it was with video phones, wearable technology and hover boards from Back to the Future II, it is difficult for some to imagine that one day we will have shared, connected, cooperative and automated vehicles. But as technology progresses at an amazing pace, we are finding that we are actually far too conservative in our visions.

The speed at which vehicle startups (market disrupters) are bringing new technologies and features to market is sending shock waves through an industry that has historically been highly conservative with respect to the integration of new technologies into road vehicles. Unencumbered by the historical processes of established vehicle manufacturers, and positively embracing risk, these market disrupters are leading the way in developing products for the next wave of mobility.

We need only look at the impact of our appetite for advancement on the speed of development and uptake of new technology. To reach a worldwide audience of 50 million, it took radio 38 years and television 13 years, but for the web, just four years. In the following decade, global web users grew tenfold to 500 million. The smartphone, just a dream in 1970, now connects many of us to the world.

The difficulty in the automotive industry is that many of the new technologies required to support next-generation cars are just that – new. Completely new to the sector, rather than extensions of old technologies, are: infra-red sensors, light detection and ranging (lidar) systems, 360° vision systems, high-definition displays, lightweight structures, wireless connectivity and the applications they enable, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-roadside communications, holographic or projected displays, autonomous driving features, voice recognition, wireless power transfer, remote control, electrification and other alternative fuel systems, health monitoring systems, haptics and head-up – the list goes on, and on, and on.

For some, the list of features that will form the backbone of future vehicles is too long. However, for the millennial generation onwards, for whom the feature-rich vehicles of the future will be designed, technology will always be too little, too late. Like it or not, we would be silly to ignore what we all know – people want a feature-rich life and technology delivers that it in spades. Mobile device manufacturers know it, app developers know it, and now vehicle manufacturers are seeing advances in technologies that will enable them to step into the arena and capitalize on it.

So the technology is close and we are on the brink of a revolution, but is the industry? We believe that this will require a widening of the current focus on demonstrating compliance with legislative automotive requirements toward more holistic systems thinking supported by risk analysis, to establish what will be needed to ensure the resilience of future vehicles.

As the automotive industry goes through this period of unprecedented change, requirements are emerging for the evolution of advanced systems engineering methods and tools for the integration and verification of new technologies, which will transform the way the industry engineers future vehicles. This transformation toward resilience engineering is being driven by a number of factors that directly affect the cost of developing vehicles and the threat of brand deterioration in the event of liability or quality-related issues.

For instance, modern vehicle complexity is growing faster than our ability to manage it, while the increasing complexity of system design means increased potential for developing systems that are difficult to test, complex and expensive. Technical and programmatic sides of projects are poorly coupled, hampering both technical and programmatic risk evaluation and management throughout the vehicle development lifecycle. Furthermore, rising vehicle connectivity will be accompanied by widening cyber security threats, which will constantly evolve as attackers strive to overcome existing defences and exploit unidentified vulnerabilities.

As the role of the driver is progressively removed from vehicle control, and off-board information relating to current location and surroundings become increasingly important to vehicle operation, the electronic systems that replace human input will need to provide extremely high levels of dependability to ensure the public acceptability of these technologies. Dependability encompasses a wide range of function-related aspects, including reliability, availability, maintainability and durability, as well as safety and security. Additionally, the required levels of dependability must be maintained under the wide range of conditions that the vehicle systems will encounter during operation.

In terms of vehicle operation, resilience can be defined as ‘the ability to ensure the continued execution, or timely resumption, of its essential functions, safely and securely, accommodating/mitigating foreseeable safety hazards and other threats, while enabling a graceful degradation of performance otherwise’. System safety, security and mission-critical functionality aspects all contribute to vehicle resilience.

The electronic systems of future vehicles, as well as the intelligent transport systems that they interact with, will therefore need to be designed to ensure a high degree of resilience to a wide range of threats. Potential threats to continued operation may result from malicious human activity (jamming, spoofing, hacking, etc) and technological issues (such as EMC-related effects or communications performance limitations), as well as environmental impacts.

The adoption of more robust systems engineering practices and a risk-based approach will therefore be key to meeting the challenges of vehicle development in the 21st century. The emerging need is to ensure the resilience of vehicles, which goes beyond the approaches and boundaries of traditional automotive engineering practices.

Horiba MIRA’s V-Res (vehicle resilience) services support a unified risk-based systems engineering approach to back the development of future vehicles that are highly resilient to environmental and criminal threats, thus ensuring acceptable levels of functional safety.

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