A car is speeding down the motorway at 130 km/h in the pouring rain. Traction, driving physics and visibility suddenly change. This is an extreme situation for the driver, even if aided by driver assistance systems such as Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Autonomous Emergency Brake (AEB).
Today, more than 100 processors and sensors ensure a comfortable and safe driving experience in modern vehicles. But what if computers took complete control of the wheel and conducted all the driving themselves in the future? Autonomous cars promise more comfort, an entirely new driving experience and above all, more safety - assuming that all systems function flawlessly for the life of the vehicle.
It is beyond question that the safeguards and functionality of complex assistance systems take on significantly more importance in autonomous driving, which is why virtual tests will be required in addition to real-world test drives of driverless cars. The technical requirements for implementing highly automated driving are already well advanced. Regulations, however, are still at an early stage. That is why TÜV SÜD experts are involved in various projects to define the legal framework for type approval in order to ensure that autonomous vehicles are safe and secure.
One example is the PEGASUS project of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy. TÜV SÜD is the only technical service organisation working together with 16 industrial and research partners to formulate method and tool requirements for ensuring the safety of highly autonomous driving functions.
The requirements for homologation in particular will increase tremendously. The current standards for ensuring the interaction of lateral and horizontal assistance functions with conventional brakes and steering (ECE R13/-79), for instance, will no longer meet specifications for the next generation of assistance systems. TÜV SÜD experts are therefore working on updating regulations with the special committee on driving assistance systems in the German Federal Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure. TÜV SÜD is already supporting OEMs with risk analyses, homologation and approval processes for autonomous vehicle testing on public roads.
Autonomous emergency brake (AEB) systems are a model demonstration of the importance of regulatory requirements for autonomous vehicles. Imagine the situation of a pedestrian appearing from between parked cars and wanting to step into the road. The prediction of what happens next depends on huge variations of different parameters, such as the probability of detection, the vehicle’s speed, the pedestrian’s speed, the road traction, the distance between car and pedestrian, and much more. This variety of situations and parameters is instantly calculated by an oncoming vehicle.
Consequently, a huge number of scenarios must be considered in order to safely assess and approve future driver assistance systems. TÜV SÜD experts estimate that 100 million safety scenarios will have to be tested before one single fully autonomous driving function can be approved. In order to consider every possible situation, TÜV SÜD experts and their partners in the PEGASUS project have been following a hybrid approach, in which the safety tests are largely conducted in virtual simulations and selected representative scenarios are performed on test grounds or in the field. This combination of virtual and real-world tests should cover the whole spectrum of driverless functions and ensure their safety.
Safety measures in autonomous cars will be expanded to communicate and interact beyond the vehicle itself. This includes car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication, which can take place over a variety of communication protocols (LTE, 5G, radio etc.).
This level of connectivity and the variety of the communication interfaces increase the risk of hacker attacks on vehicle electronic and information systems, which could consequently affect road safety and the data privacy of road users. Cyber security and privacy are just as important as the safety of the vehicle’s autonomous driving functions. For both system and IT security, therefore, TÜV SÜD experts are developing new and reliable methods and standards for connected vehicles. TÜV SÜD can rely on its reliable and international base of IT expertise built up over the years as a successful service provider for IT security for various applications, including industrial facilities, energy suppliers and railways.