Historically some car makers have used internal, proprietary software safety guidelines as their way of attempting to assure an appropriate level of safety (Koopman 2018b). If a safety argument is based in part upon conformance to a safety standard, it is essential that the comprehensiveness of the safety standard itself be supported by evidence. For public standards that argument can involve group consensus by experts, public scrutiny, assessments of historical effectiveness, improvement in response to loss events, and general industry acceptance.
On the other hand, proprietary standards lack at least public scrutiny, and often lack other aspects such as general industry acceptance as well as falling short of accepted practices in technically substantive ways. One potential approach to argue that a proprietary safety standard is adequate is to map it to a publicly available standard, although there might be other viable argumentation approaches.
Sometimes arguing compliance with a well-known and documented industry safety standard may be inadequate for a particular safety case. Although all passenger vehicle subsystems in the United States must comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) issued by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), compliance with these standards alone concentrates on mechanical and electrical issues, and only high level electronics functionality. FMVSS compliance is insufficient for a safety case that must encompass software (Koopman 2018b).
Similarly, use of particular standards might be an accepted or recommended practice, but not a means of ensuring safety. For example, the use of AUTOSAR (Autosar.org 2018) and Model Based Design techniques are sometimes proposed as indicators of safe software, but use of these technologies has essentially no predictive power with respect to system safety.
For automotive systems with safety-critical software, ISO 26262 is typically an appropriate standard, although other standards such as IEC 61508 (IEC 1998) can be relevant as well. For some autonomous system functions, conformance to ISO PAS 21448 (ISO 2018) might well be appropriate. A new standard, UL 4600, is specifically intended to cover autonomous vehicles and is expected to be introduced in 2019.
Arguments of the form "technology X, standard Y, or methodology Z is adequate because it has historically produced safe systems in that past" should address the potential issues with "proven in use" argumentation considered in the following section.
(This is an excerpt of our SSS 2019 paper: Koopman, P., Kane, A. & Black, J., "Credible Autonomy Safety Argumentation," Safety-Critical Systems Symposium, Bristol UK, Feb. 2019. Read the full text here)
- Autosar.org (2018) The Standard Software Framework for Intelligent Mobility, https://www.autosar.org/ accessed Nov. 5, 2018.
- Koopman, P. (2018b), "Practical Experience Report: Automotive Safety Practices vs. Accepted Principles," SAFECOMP, Sept. 2018.
- IEC (1998) IEC 61508: Functional Safety of Electrical/Electronic/Programmable Electronic Safety-related Systems, International Electronic Commission, December, 1998.
- ISO (2018) Road vehicles – Safety of the Intended Function, ISO/PRF PAS 21448 (under development), International Standards Organization, 2018.