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  • Automotive Mega-trends, Safety and Requirements Management

    I come from a car-centric family where my father actually bought and sold over 300 vehicles in his lifetime, so automotive mega-trends pique my interest. A new conference called Semiconductors ISO 26262 held it's first annual event last month, meeting in Munich with guest speakers from some impressive companies like: Intel, NVIDIA, STMicroelectronics, Renesas, Melexis, Texas Instruments, Toshiba, Robert Bosch, Jama Software and NetSpeed Systems. There was a panel discussion all about ISO 26262, the functional safety standard for automotive, and Adrian Rolufs of Jama Software presented on: Staying Competitive in Safety-Critical Applications with Requirements Management. I've read his 18 slide presentation and learned some important details. Adrian's background includes working for 10 years in mixed-signal IC development and 5 years with requirements management for multiple industries: Semiconductor, Automotive, Medical Device, Aerospace & Defense.

    So the big three automotive mega-trends are:


    We've been blogging on SemiWiki for several years now on the Electrification trend of increased semiconductor content for automotive, and most analysts see something like a 10% growth rate here. Tesla, GM, Ford, Toyota, Waymo, Mercedes Benz, Google, Intel, NVIDIA, Audi and many other technology companies have joined the quest to make autonomous vehicles a reality for us to enjoy. Travel as a Service (TaaS) has been wildly popular around our globe with big brands like Uber and Lyft being in dominant positions today. So there's a whole lot of change going on in our auto-centric society.

    Electric Vehicles (EV) are now at a point where some 30 models are available worldwide and we can expect that number to grow rapidly, the sales of EV around the world went up 41% in 2016. In the USA for 2017 the EV sales were up 86%, now that's growth worth noting. Even established car brands like Volvo have made a public commitment for 100% electric vehicles instead of gradually tapering away from combustion engines.

    One big push for autonomous vehicles is safety, because at present we see some 1,300,000 people die annually in car crashes, an average of 3,287 deaths each day. The early adopters for autonomous driving are Tesla, Google and Waymo, but we will probably have to wait until 2025 to see widespread use of autonomous vehicles because of the technical, financial, government and legal challenges.

    I've used both Uber and Lyft services in California and Oregon, so they've really provided excellent apps for my smart phone when GPS and a cell tower are available. The other big trend is car sharing apps like Car2Go and ReachNow to get higher utilization out of our beloved cars that mostly sit idle. I expect that traditional Taxi, Limo and Rental Car services will decline and suffer as TaaS gains momentum.

    If all of these mega-trends comes to a full realization then visionaries at Google expect that we could experience some astounding benefits:

    • 90% reduction in auto accidents
      • 4.95 million fewer accidents in the US
      • 30,000 fewer deaths
      • 2,000,000 fewer injuries
      • $400B cost savings to our economy

    • 90% reduction in wasted commuting
      • 4.8 billion fewer commuting hours
      • 1.9 billion gallons in fuel savings
      • $101B saved in lost productivity and fuel cost

    • 90% reduction in cars
      • 80% reduction in cost per trip-mile
      • Car utilization climbing from 5-10% up to 75%
      • Better land use

    The combination of these three automotive mega-trends and their efficiency benefits bode quite well for the semiconductor industry and will continue to drive the healthy 10% growth rate for several years. Semiconductor vendors need to navigate the new complexities of regulation and complexity in the automotive industry in order to stay competitive and relevant. With the ISO 26262 functional safety standard the vendors must now trace their requirements throughout the entire design process, and at first many companies will use standard office applications like Word and Excel to cobble together something quickly..


    The company Jama Software was founded to automate the traceability of requirements throughout many complex product design flows, so you don't have to kludge together something less efficiently with office tools. This automated approach provides new benefits like live traceability during product development to quickly provide the program manager with a view of how every user requirement impacts the technical requirements, design and even test cases.


    This approach from Jama isn't a one-size fits all, in fact you can even adjust the tools to fit the way that your company does automotive design, with each step of your process captured along with dependencies.


    During the automotive design process you have many stakeholders, and when something comes up that will impact other stakeholders then the change needs to be reviewed. The Jama tools support this kind of stakeholder review by automating and capturing all review items in a convenient GUI format.


    As the electronics in your automotive system are being design there's need for verification and validation of all requirements, so for example there's a requirement for supply current on a pin to be 2mA maximum, while the verification limit is set at 1.7mA, but then there's a validation where the value is outside of the specification at 2.05mA, then the Jama system quickly pinpoints this validation error by using a red color to catch your attention.


    What makes the Jama tools so intuitive and easy to use are the web-based GUI, liberal licensing model so that all the engineers can use it, and a low learning curve. Automotive companies may start out using Jama tools to meet ISO 26262 traceability requirements, enjoy the benefits, then start to use the same tools for every product design. If a tool can reduce multiple silicon tape-outs, then its value becomes quite important. The consultants at Jama know about the semiconductor and automotive industries and will help you get setup quickly to fit your specific design process using best practices.

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