This is part 1 of a 4-part series on ISO 26262. This part provides an overview of ISO 26262. Then, part 2 reviews the functional safety lifecycles. This is followed by part 3, which examines the latest trends driving ISO 26262, and finally, part 4, which explains how you can easily meet compliance standards with the right tools.

The automotive industry is innovating at a rapid speed. The latest trends require regulators, OEMs, and automotive suppliers to continuously update rules that ensure no one gets hurt at the cost of breakthrough technology. At the heart of these regulations is ISO 26262, titled “Road Vehicles—Functional Safety.” Here’s a quick ISO 26262 summary to give you the basics.

ISO 26262 Summary

ISO 26262 Definition

ISO 26262, also known as DIS 26262, is one of the most important safety standards in the automotive industry. It is an adaptation of IEC 61508 for Automotive Electric/Electronic (E/E) Systems and defines the functional safety for automotive equipment applicable through the lifecycle of all E/E safety-related systems.

The standard aims to address possible hazards caused by the malfunction of electronic and electrical systems and their associated mechanical subsystems in vehicles. As of 2018, ISO 26262 applies to all road vehicles, except mopeds. It is a risk-based standard for assessing the severity and probability of hazardous situations and putting safety measures in place to avoid or mitigate systemic failures and random hardware failures.

ISO 26262 is the international standard for functional safety requirements of electrical, electronic, and software technologies and determines how automotive products are designed, developed, integrated, and validated.

Person driving a new electric vehicle

ISO 26262 Goals

ISO 26262 ensures the safety of products validated through it in several ways:

  • Defines the automotive safety lifecycle and supports adjusting the necessary activities during lifecycle phases
  • Covers the functional safety throughout the entire development and lifecycle process
  • Provides an automotive-specific risk-based approach for determining risk classes as defined by Automotive Safety Integrity Levels (ASILs) and uses that to specify the requirements for achieving acceptable residual risk
  • Outlines requirements for validation measures to ensure an acceptable level of safety is achieved

How ISO 26262 Works

Professional Engineer Works on a Computer with a 3D CAD Software and Tests the Electric Car Chassis Prototype with Wheels, Batteries and Engine Standing in a High Tech Development Laboratory.ISO 26262 outlines a process for managing and reducing risks associated with E/E systems and is built upon the safety lifecycle:

  1. Planning: The safety requirements are defined, and a plan is developed
  2. Analysis: The system is analyzed to uncover potential hazards and failure modes
  3. Design and implementation: Based on the plan, the system is designed to mitigate the hazards discovered in the analysis phase
  4. Verification: The system is tested to ensure it meets the defined requirements and that hazards have been mitigated or eliminated
  5. Validation: The completed system is tested in its intended environment to ensure it works as expected
  6. Production, operation, decommissioning: This is the final phase where requirements are maintained and the system is decommissioned

ISO 26262 defines the lifecycle stages required for managing and reducing risks with E/E systems and the documentation that must be produced at each stage.

Key ISO 26262 Vocabulary

The measure specifies terms to remove ambiguity across functional safety. Some of the key terms include:

  • Item: System or array of systems used to implement a function at the vehicle level, to which ISO 26262 is applied
  • Harm: Physical injury or damage to the health of persons
  • Risk: Combination of the probability of occurrence of harm and the severity of that harm
  • Fault: Abnormal condition that can cause an element or an item to fail
  • Error: Discrepancy between a computed, observed, or measured value or condition and the true, specified, or theoretically correct value or condition
  • Failure: Termination of the ability of an element to perform a function as required

Now that you have read our ISO 26262 summary . . .

You have the framework for understanding ISO 26262 compliance. This summary was just the beginning. In part 2, we will deep dive into the 3 phases of the functional safety lifecycle.

If you’re looking for help meeting ISO 26262 compliance standards, we have tools to help. Just contact us to learn more.