DO-178 software reuse in the ISO 26262 domain reduces cost for automotive suppliers

May 17, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Is the reuse of avionics software feasible or even recommendable in automotive applications? This was one of the questions the research project VirtuOS tried to straighten out. The research team also addressed the question if such software meets the requirements of the safety standard ISO 26262.

The VirtuOS team - researchers from the Berlin Technical University, the Fraunhofer FIRST Institute for Computing Architectures and Software Technology and from software company OpenSynergy - came to a clear conclusion: Yes - almost all artifacts meeting the avionics safety standard DO-178 can be reused in an ISO 26262 context. For automotive suppliers and OEMs, this option can help to significantly reduce development efforts while at the same time it improves functional safety at reasonable costs. 

Within the scope of the project, a variety of processes, tools and methods to create safe automotive software has been assessed and developed. Fraunhofer FIRST analyzed existing safety standards in various domains including avionics (DO-178B) and automotive (ISO 26262). Since the validation of schedules is an important prerequisite for deployment of software in safety-critical applications, Fraunhofer FIRST got granular on scheduling methods and developed a scheduling concept for safe software partitioning. These methods are one of the foundations for the development of tools which can be used to generate safe automotive software. 

The Institute of Software Technology and Theoretical Informatics of the Berlin Technical University developed a verification concept aiming at identifying errors when using external software libraries, making use of static code analysis. This method helps developers to improve safety in software already at an early stage of development. 

The researchers also assessed and improved development processes and they scrutinized the requirements to the OpenSynergy's open software platform COQOS; parts of the platform have been adapted to these requirements. In connection with the integration of the PikeOS avionics microkernel into the COQOS platform, the research partners also checked and acknowledged the transferability of avionics safety standards to the automotive applications universe. The project analysis allowed OpenSynergy to optimize its software in with respect to safety and security.