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ISO 26262 functional safety is important because it ensures that a high level of safety is built into car components from the start.

ISO 26262 provides guidance for the entire automotive safety lifecycle, from overall risk management to individual component development, production, operation, service, and decommissioning.

ISO 26262 mandates a functional safety development process (from specification all the way through production release) that automotive OEMs and suppliers must follow and document (for compliance) to have their devices qualified to run inside commercial (passenger) vehicles.

This key mandate outlines a risk classification system (Automotive Safety Integrity Levels, or ASILs) and aims to reduce possible hazards caused by the malfunctioning behavior of electrical and electronic (E/E) systems.

ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) collaborates closely with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). ISO 26262 specifications were officially released in 2011 as an adaptation of IEC 61508, the generic functional safety standard for E/E systems. 

ISO 26262 is very different from other standards in the automotive sector because the focus is specifically on “functional” safety. In other words, the focus of ISO 26262 is to ensure that automotive components do what they’re supposed to do, precisely when they’re supposed to do it. It provides an automotive-specific approach for determining risk classes known as ASILs.

But even automotive standards evolve.

In 2018, ISO 26262 underwent a major update and added two new standards: requirements for semiconductors and for motorcycles, trucks, and buses. Guidance was added on model based development, software safety analysis, dependent failure analysis, fault tolerance, and more. 

ISO 26262’s Automotive Safety Integrity Levels (ASILs) are based on three variables:

  • Severity
  • Probability of exposure
  • Controllability by the driver

More updates to ISO 26262 are expected as vehicle autonomy comes into existence.

Want to learn more? Tonex offers ISO 26262: Automotive Safety, a 2-day course that helps participants develop their internal ISO 26262, implement it, and audit their company’s performance internally. This course is a combination of interactive lectures and practical activities, including labs, group activities and hands-on workshops. 

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.

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