Vehicle safety, AUTOSAR and mixed criticality - Embedded.com

Vehicle safety, AUTOSAR and mixed criticality

In the recent Toyota Camry auto safety trial of previous weeks, the issues revealed there indicate how complex and error-prone the development of software in the mechanical power train and engine control can be.

No less so is the software development in the infotainment systems in the modern automobile. The challenges in the power train and engine are tough but the design goal is conceptually simple and straightforward: every bit of software is safety critical.

But in the infotainment subsystems the problem is what is called in avionics “mixed criticality.”  Increasingly in the automobile, consumer techniques, devices and software integrated into the entertainment systems with little concern for safety and often run on the same software used in the more critical instrument panel information display subsystems.

According to Jörn Schneider, author of “Overcoming the Interoperability Barrier in Mixed-Criticality Systems,” mixed criticality subsystems in the automobile are every bit as much complex as those in avionics and just as tough to deal with.

In-car electroniccontrol units like instrument clusters and head units need to provide non, or soft real-time behavior for displaying information or audio and video streaming, ” he writes. “In addition they have to work in the firm real-time communication of the car and must direct to the driver whatever mission or safety critical messages they receive.

Not only are consumers expecting to be able to use their mobile devices containing their many plug and play apps in the auto, they also want them to interact with the electronic infotainment systems as well. For example, in one of the papers included in this week’s Tech Focus newsletter The consumerized automobile and its design challenges,” developers are looking to integrate the Android plug and play paradigm directly into the infotainment subsystems.

Fortunately there are an increasing number of tools available under the mantle of the AUTOSAR (Automotive Open System Architecture) specification that can deal with some if not all of the safety challenges developers face. As discussed in “Hardware requirements for GENIVI-based infotainment systems,”  the developers of the GENIVI Linux-based infotainment standard, are aware of the issues and can be expected to address them in future versions of that specification.

And in addition to applying AUTOSAR to the power train and engine control , efforts are being made to address the complex mixed criticality challenges faced in the infotainment environment. Of the articles included in the Tech Focus newsletter this week two that I especially recommend are:

Apply AUTOSAR timing protection to build safe ISO 26262 mixed-criticality systems  and,
Running Linux and AUTOSAR side-by-side in mixed criticality systems

In January this year the Consumer Electronics Show began headlining the consumer electronics opportunities in the automobile. What is troubling is that CES is expected to continue to do so again at the 2014 show this following January. Given that, I think it is important for embedded developers to be well grounded in all aspects of the AUTOSAR standard. Some other articles on Embedded.com that I think you will find useful are:

Developing infotainment in an Autosar environment
Verifying the border between auto hardware and software
Opening the door to software optimization with Autosar 

Developers already working with the framework need to keep up to date on how to deal with the mixed criticality issues while developers from the consumer and mobile space will have to become educated in the standard if they are to be successful.

Embedded.com Site Editor Bernard Cole is also editor of the twice-a-week Embedded.com newsletters as well as a partner in the TechRite Associates editorial services consultancy. He welcomes your feedback. Send an email to , or call 928-525-9087.

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