Understanding System complexity for Safety & Cyber Security issues

21 October 2020

Nowadays there is a lot of discussion regarding how autonomous architectures of the future would be, how we can influence legislation to integrate these technologies, what types of business models would be created, and what the real size of the market could potentially grow to be. Nonetheless, you will rarely hear discussions about the importance of the resilience of the system in order to guarantee that autonomous driving is robust, safe, secure, and cyber protected “technology”.

This is arguably one of the biggest challenges that we will need to overcome in order to achieve the integration of CAV systems into our roads and societies.

In order to design a system that can be robust, safe and secure and cyber protected you need to have had a systems engineering vision that helps you understand the complexity of the system and the multiple subsystems, failure models, specifications that you need to define and the effects these would have on businesses and organizations. This system definition becomes extremely complex as in the CAV example you have multiple sub-systems interconnected at the same time, talking in different languages and sometimes using different operating systems. These are hence enormously complex systems acting in a real-time environment that need to respond and take decisions in less than a millisecond in some cases.

Hopefully, you can comprehend the level of complexity that this supposes and all this has nothing to do with the AI complexity that these vehicles should or may have, that’s an add-on that we would talk about on another day.

Currently, most of the automotive OEMs are not well prepared for this, even if they think they are. Their approaches to systems engineering, safety, and security are not up to the standards compared with other industries. It is true that the implementation of ISO 26262 back in 2012 helps a lot the OEMs to safety integrate some changes into the vehicles, however, they do it still with a component-oriented mind set. Between 2012 and now a lot of automotive companies have tried to change this and to implement a systems engineering approach with however little success. Even some of the biggest OEMs are still facing real challenges to change the mindset of their management and employees, from a component-oriented to a systems-oriented mindset.

In order to understand the importance of these changes in the organizations It is crucial to understand the below:

An organization with a real systems engineering approach is in a much better position to make sure that they maintain a secure, safe, and cyber protected environment to deliver any system and subsystems in their organization in a timely as costly manner whilst also ensuring transparency regarding all interfaces.

In addition, the requirements when it comes to management and engineering follow a more consistent approach across all system levels down to the components and also across all development phases. The challenge in this it is to convince the complete engineering organization in order to clearly define the different system levels, starting from the top, the complete vehicle, to the lowest level and component level.

Procurement, IT, Project management, and most parts of an organization would need to adapt their processes to comply with the new fully integrated systems approach The main success factor will be to change the view starting from top management to the complete organization. This approach is what is required in order to make sure that a CAV system is secure, safe, robust, and cyber protected.

Based on our experience, cybersecurity and safety are just ..” buzz words” that people in different organizations talk about but are not really focused on getting a clear comprehension (and hence be able to develop and offer solutions) of the new approach. However, in order to get where we all want to go, the OEMs need to take control and responsibility for these requirements, as they would be liable for them. Yes, they would be – based on the business models we are seeing today – liable for our security, our data inside and outside of the vehicle, and for ensuring that the communication between their and third parties’ products is secure and resilient enough to provide the best customer experience.

The team of Y-mobility has been working for many years in systems engineering and is trying to promote a systems engineering approach to various OEMs and Tier1s. We strongly believe and know from other industries that these changes need to come sooner in order to define and be able to provide a secure, resilient, and safer Autonomous technology to the public in a much better and more efficient manner in a variety of industries. Please contact us to have an initial conversation regarding any Business Transformation, Systems engineering, MSySE/MBSE, and Validation and Verifications challenges in CAV.

Article by David Fidalgo

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