Since the first pedestrian fatality due to an autonomous vehicle in March 2018, there’s been no shortage of discussion and debate over the future of autonomous vehicles and AV testing.
However, as Dr. Craig Hillman discusses in this month’s issue of SAE’s Autonomous Vehicle Engineering, there’s a critical piece missing from that conversation: the interconnected roles of reliability and safety. In many companies, there tends to be a disconnect between the two departments. And because authority and responsibility (i.e., who does what and who reports to whom) can have such a dramatic impact on hardware and software design cycles, keeping these two departments in silos can have negative effects.
For example, as a result of having disparate reliability and safety departments, one AV manufacturer ended up including redundancy throughout a vehicle (in sensing, control, power, braking, etc.). That adds significant additional costs without necessarily improving safety.
Without a consistent standard for how these departments interact, the automotive industry is creating the potential for conflict and miscommunication that can either put customers at risk or create unnecessarily expensive AV systems — or both.