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Confronting Safety Issues in IoT Design

Safety issues in IoT design have come to the forefront of public discussion. Self-driving cars in particular raise safety concerns, which demand robust solutions.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is seeping into homes, onto roads, and into the daily lives of anyone gadget-friendly enough to benefit. As semiconductors integrate into ordinary life, they introduce a host of new safety concerns. Self-driving cars, for example, are only as benign as their chips, which can introduce electrical faults that disrupt critical lane change warnings and collision avoidance features. Automakers are taking many of their lessons from the aerospace industry. They’ve also put together the ISO26262 Functional Safety Group to define the Automotive Safety Integrity Levels needed to design, build, and test self-driving vehicles.

A New Level of Safety in IoT Design

The concept of automated cars is understandably scary, but the ASIL has set a maximum failure rate of one in 10 million hours. It takes a lot of testing and redrafting to reach this goal, and that costs money. Manufacturers are thus taking longer to profit from their research and development in exchange for important safety features.

Reducing R&D Spend

If a self-driving car is designed to be platform agnostic, R&D time should shrink, and IP optimization should be more focused. This approach doesn’t create much competitive advantage through diversification. Automotive chips will need to suit a range of different consumers. Designers must work with several vendors as well as constantly changing regulations.

Hacking is a valid concern. Communications channels can be infiltrated, and chip data is prone to anomalies. The ISO26262 has created a guide to limit faulty signals from other sources.

Automakers still have a role to play in the evolution of fully autonomous cars. They will have to determine how well chip packages resist heat and vibrations. To defend against outside access, hardware must use about six OSI communications stack layers. This progress will set new standards for the entire IoT market.