Table of Contents

ISO 26262: The Need for Functional Safety in Automobiles

Since 1855, when the first automobile was invented, the automobile industry has evolved from mere mechanical machines to intelligent machines with prime focus on safety and luxury. This has made vehicles more complex and intelligent, which can lead to more challenges and chances of failure. Therefore, these systems need to be built according to standards that give prime importance to functional safety.

What is ISO 26262 and why is it required?

The need for safety and luxury has driven our automobiles to be more complex with parts like ADAS systems, lane departure warning, and infotainment systems, among others.  There are many ECUs in the modern automobile that controls various actuators on the internal combustion engine to ensure optimal engine performance. When systems become more complex, there comes a need to define proper standards that help to limit the number of failures in a car and ensure the safety of the driver and passengers.

ISO 26262 is a global standard defined for functional safety in the automotive industry. It applies to the electronic components, both hardware and software. ISO 26262 as a standard defines specific requirements that need to be met by the safety-relevant function of the system, and also by processes and tools, which are used within the development process.

Back in the days when automobiles were not so evolved, we had a generic standard like DIN EN 61508. However, in November 2011, ISO 26262 came into existence, which is an adaptation of EN 61508 and it is more evolved and unified than the previous standards. It was devised to include every kind of modern automobile.

However, ISO 26262 went through a major update during 2018. This was done to accommodate the new technologies that emerged in the industry later on. It helps in avoiding unreasonable risks and makes your cars safer.

What does ISO 26262 entail?

Let’s take a look at what is included in ISO 26262. The first thing we need to know is that it covers all the aspects of the Software Development Lifecycle.  The entire standard is divided into different sections.

  1. The first part covers the language, acronyms, definitions used in the standard, etc. This will help you understand certain terminologies used in the description in the standard.
  2. The second part is a guide on the management of functional safety. This includes both the project and the organizational point of view.
  3. This part involves the concept phase. In this phase, there is project definition, criteria for the project, along with establishing the required safety requirements and initiating the safety procedures.
  4. This covers a myriad of topics pertaining to system development, which includes various system-level aspects including requirement analysis, synthesis, and allocation (both functional and logical), followed by evaluation, and verification & validation (V&V).
  5. This section is regarding the development at the hardware level, and it includes topics such as specifications for hardware safety, hardware design, the evaluation of the hardware architecture, safety goal violations that may occur due to failures, hardware integration, and verification.
  6. This section describes functional safety at the software level. This includes specifications of software safety, architecture design, software design, implementation, integration, followed by verification.
  7. This part is concerned with the production, operations, service, and decommission stages of automotive safety. This includes planning activities as well.
  8. There are various supporting processes as well, such as configuration management, documentation, and others. This part addresses all these supporting processes.
  9. The part covers the Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL), which is a risk classification system defined as part of ISO 26262. There are different levels for the classification based on its severity.
  10. It describes how to apply ISO 26262. This will help in understanding all the concepts according to the standard.

Challenges Automotive Industry faces in Implementing Functional Safety Standard

Safety is not Cost-effective: One of the biggest challenges for ensuring safety is cost. If you want to add more safety layers, it is going to increase the overall cost of development. This is one of the reasons why some auto manufacturers give less importance to functional safety. However, safety is a critical aspect of automobiles and has to be addressed adhering to the standards.

Inefficient tools & processes: As new technologies emerge in the market, existing processes and tools that are used may not be adequate to implement new features and functionalities. Implementing standards also means making required changes in your development process and the tools that are employed. It also involves choosing the recommended tools defined in the standard. These changes cover all the aspects of the development, right from the start to the release of the product into the market. Implementing this standard can be a time-consuming process, as it requires training your workforce to adapt to the new development processes and tools.

Above all this, each step of the process has to be documented in a unified format and validated against the SOPs established by the company.

Lack of Experts: One of the major challenges faced by the industry is the lack of experts. When we say a lack of experts, we are talking about people, who understand the industry standards along with functional safety, car design and development, software/electronic nitty-gritty. Unless you have experts on your team, it may become difficult to implement regulatory standards effectively.


It may not be possible for automotive companies to manage every aspect oftechnological transformation. To enable this transformation and to enhance customer experience, automotive companies can leverage the expertise of partners. eInfochips has expertise across ADAS, Infotainment & Clusters, Telematics, Connected Vehicles (V2V, V2X), EV Charging, Multimedia sub-systems and has experience in delivering superior experience, safety & efficiency to its partners according to regulatory standards. To know more about how they can aid your next automotive project, contact us.

Explore More

Talk to an Expert

to our Newsletter
Stay in the loop! Sign up for our newsletter & stay updated with the latest trends in technology and innovation.

Our Work





Device Partnerships
Digital Partnerships
Quality Partnerships
Silicon Partnerships


Products & IPs