Safety standard for autonomous vehicles available

Safety standard for autonomous vehicles available

Market news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

The new standard – UL 4600, the Standard for Safety for the Evaluation of Autonomous Products – includes safety principles and processes for evaluating autonomous products with no human driver supervision. It requires a safety argument along with topics including risk analysis and safety-relevant aspects of design process, testing, tool qualification, autonomy validation, data integrity and human-machine interaction for non drivers, among others, says the organization.

UL 4600 is technology neutral and does not mandate the use of any specific technology in creating the autonomous system, permitting design process flexibility. UL 4600 does not define performance or pass/fail criteria for safety, says the organization, nor does it cover road testing or acceptable risk levels. Furthermore, the Standard does not set forth requirements for ethical product release decisions or any ethical aspects of product behavior.

Underwriters Laboratories partnered with Dr. Philip Koopman of Edge Case Research to drive development of the Standard. Koopman, says the organization, is an internationally recognized expert on autonomous vehicle safety and brings more than 20 years of research experience to the collaboration.

“UL 4600 is a set of requirements and safety lessons learned that informs the contents of a safety case,” says Koopman. “This safety case approach provides the flexibility needed to help ensure safety without overly constraining the use of this quickly evolving technology.”

A diverse body of international stakeholders was convened to participate on the Standards Technical Panel (STP) to develop the document, says the organization. The group proposed content, shared knowledge, reviewed and voted upon the proposals and ultimately achieved consensus on publishing the first edition of UL 4600. Other stakeholders provided proposals and commentary via the online collaboration platform utilized by UL Standards.

STP members represented a broad variety of interests, including automotive manufacturers, trucking, robotics, aviation and government systems. Others participated on behalf of insurance companies, state and federal government transportation and regulatory agencies, universities and a consumer advocacy organization.

“We are grateful to Dr. Koopman and the many stakeholders who so willingly shared their knowledge to contribute to the development of this Standard,” says Phil Piqueira, UL vice president, Global Standards. “This is an example of standardization keeping pace with emerging industries to help support safety while encouraging innovation and continued progress.”

The new Standard is available for purchase in digital or print formats at, where it can also be viewed online for free (with registration) using UL’s Digital View functionality.

Underwriters Laboratories

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