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Functional Safety for Automotive HMI Systems

The number of processors and components in today's automotive applications will ultimately make transportation less dangerous, but only if they operate reliably and predictably.

eetimes.com, May. 29, 2019 – 

The automotive industry is changing rapidly, and vehicles are becoming more advanced, autonomous, and comfortable. The number of processors, sensors, memories, and other electronic components in today's automotive applications is increasing, which will ultimately make transportation less dangerous. These automotive subsystems utilize connectivity and self-driving technology to increase driver safety, but can only achieve this if they operate reliably and predictably.

Inside the automotive cabin, human machine interfaces (HMI) are advancing in concert with new capabilities and infotainment systems. Capacitive sensing buttons and touchscreens are common, for example, to play/pause a song or to select an AM/FM channel. They are also increasingly used in safety-critical functions such as engine start/stop buttons and cruise control.

Beyond the automotive industry, there are many application sectors where failure is not an option because it can lead to physical injury and/or property damage. Critical systems in nuclear power plants, some types of industrial machinery, and airplanes are obvious examples. Even everyday appliances such as microwave ovens or washing machines can harm people in case of a malfunction. Systems that have the potential to harm people need mitigation measures, and the goal of any functional safety program is to minimize the risk of physical harm, property damage, and liability.

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