Automotive > Powertrain, Body, Chassis & Safety Blog

Incorporating Functional Safety into your Automotive Design

by Asif Anwar | Sep 10, 2021

The automotive safety domain will grow at a CAAGR (compound annual average growth rate) of almost 12% over the 2020 to 2025 timeframe with the market for vehicle safety systems forecast to reach $81 billion by 2028. The Strategy Analytics Powertrain, Body, Safety & Chassis Service (PBCS) Service report “Systems and Solutions Driving Growth in the Automotive Safety Domain” forecasts that rapid adoption of ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) coupled with continued penetration growth of passive safety systems in emerging markets, and the inclusion of additional safety systems to meet safety mandates and ratings requirements will underpin this growth. This will translate to the automotive safety domain representing the second largest market for automotive semiconductors.

Automotive safety has evolved over the past century as the automotive platform has transformed from a primarily mechanical machine into a sophisticated electronically controlled system. The safety systems on a light passenger vehicle can be categorised in terms of active and passive systems.

Traditional passive systems include seatbelts, airbags, occupant detection systems and reversible belt tensioners. Active safety systems can comprise an array of collision warning systems including blindspot monitoring systems, lane departure warning systems and automated emergency braking as well as other systems that support tire pressure monitoring/warning, night vision and driver and occupant monitoring.

  • ADAS adoption driven by collision warning and other ADAS systems will be a core driver with the resultant semiconductor market forecast to grow by 247% over the 2020 to 2025 timeframe.

In addition to “safety” systems that are specifically incorporated into a vehicle to protect drivers and passengers as well as other road users, the increasing sophistication of the vehicle platform has also necessitated the introduction of “functional safety” to ensure that hardware and software system failures across the vehicle and the risk therein is mitigated as much as possible to ensure minimal damage when such failures do occur.

Safety standards are designed to mitigate risks associated with systemic and random failures and thus ensure the safety of products, activities, processes etc. Functional safety standards related to automotive electrical and electronic systems derive their origin from the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) 61508 standard developed for the functional safety of Electrical/Electronic/Programmable Electronic Safety-related Systems in all types of industry, including power plants, factories, machinery, railways, medical equipment, and home appliances.

ISO 26262 was created as an adaptation of IEC 61508 for automotive electric/electronic systems.
Functional Safety Standards
Functional Safety Standard Examples

While not legally binding, the use of ISO 26262 has become an integral part of the automotive manufacturing supply chain so that vehicle manufacturers can prove that the vehicles have been made safe through the utilisation of electrical and electronic systems designed in accordance with ISO 26262. This includes identifying risks that might arise from hardware or system faults, software development or during production.

Electrical/electronic system compliance with ISO 26262 requires the ability to respond to both process and product failures and operates under the guiding principle that all electronics systems will eventually fail due to either systemic or random faults.

  • Systemic failures and faults are usually due to shortcomings in the design, development, or manufacturing process. All software failures are categorized as systemic failures.
  • Random failures usually apply to hardware under the premise that all electronics systems will eventually fail. Failures can occur either during the production process or when the system is in the field.

A failure can be further defined in terms of a safety integrity level (SIL), and in the case of ISO 26262 this is represented across five automotive SIL (ASIL) categories, ranging from ASIL-QM (no safety ramifications) through to ASIL-D which is the most stringent.

An ASIL classification is a function of severity (S), probability of exposure (E) and controllability (C). Each variable is further split into several categories and combining these variables will determine the ASIL classification.




S0 – no injuries

E0 – incredibly unlikely

C0 – controllable in general

S1 – light to moderate injuries

E1 – very low probability

C1 – simply controllable

S2 – severe to life threatening

E2 – low probability

C2 – normally controllable

S3 – life threatening to fatal

E3 – medium probability

C3 – difficult to control or uncontrollable


E4 – high probability



Semiconductor suppliers need to be able to assure their supply chain that product development has been managed through a process that decreases the probability of systematic failures. Semiconductor suppliers will thus aim to provide associated documentation intended to furnish the customer with information around the design and development of a product.

A starting point for many companies will be to either self-certify or receive third-party certification from bodies such as TÜV (Technischer Überwachungs-Verein). This will be used in conjunction with software, tools, training, and other services provided either directly by the semiconductor company or via partnerships with authorized partners. To meet ISO 26262 requirements, the idea that all hardware will fail is baked into quantitative base failure rate (BFR) metrics for semiconductor devices to allow suppliers to provide details around the intrinsic reliability of a component.

Semiconductor suppliers can thus provide specifically designed IS0 26262-compliant products. Companies may also offer products that are “ISO 26262-ready” that have been designed using a mainstream development flow but still offer necessary safety features such as internal monitoring and diagnostics to support systems that mandate functional safety. Fail-operational architectures that incorporate redundancy can also be employed and finally, a semiconductor supplier may offer products that have no built-in safety features but are furnished with the requisite data such as FIT rates and failure-mode distribution (FMD) information to allow the end user to build in their own safety analysis.

Both the traditional safety domain as well as increasing functional safety requirements from other vehicle system domains will translate to a growing semiconductor opportunity. Furthermore, functional safety certification will serve as the lynchpin for the momentum behind electrification and ADAS/autonomy as well as the moves towards domain/zonal and centralized vehicle E/E architectures. Functional safety is thus increasingly becoming a differentiator that semiconductor companies such as Infineon, onsemi, NXP, Renesas, Rohm, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments etc., can leverage to expand exposure at existing customers as well as target new and emerging opportunities.

Check out the report “Systems and Solutions Driving Growth in the Automotive Safety Domain” for the full analysis and thanks for reading!

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Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss this post and the underlying questions raised. For more information on Strategy Analytics’ extensive coverage of the automotive industry, take a look at the PBCS (Powertrain, Body, Chassis & Safety), AVS (Autonomous Vehicles Service), AIT (Automotive Infotainment and Telematics) and ACM (Automotive Connected Mobility) services.

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