Safety standard to define operational limits for automated vehicles

Safety standard to define operational limits for automated vehicles

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

The operation of networked automated vehicles can only take place safely if numerous operational boundary conditions are observed. The non-profit organisation ASAM e.V. (Association for Standardisation of Automation and Measuring Systems) has now presented a concept for a safety standard for such vehicles.

Safety is fundamental to the development of connected and automated vehicles (CAV) and the realisation of automated driving (AD). On the one hand, this means that a rigorous validation process for AD functions is needed. On the other hand, it is also necessary to define operating conditions under which a vehicle can be used safely. These operating conditions include parameters such as road type, weather conditions, traffic conditions, time of day and many others that can influence the behaviour of a CAV. This safe operating range is defined in the Operational Design Domain (ODD). The ODD is thus an important part of a vehicle’s safety concept and must be valid for a given configuration of the automated driving function throughout its lifetime.

For the car manufacturer, the ODD is important because it specifies which scenarios a CAV is exposed to and thus against which scenarios a driving function or the CAV must be validated. The ODD helps to focus the limited validation resources on the necessary and relevant scenarios. For example, if the ODD excludes a driving speed higher than 50 km/h or driving on motorways, vehicle manufacturers can adapt their catalogue of test scenarios accordingly and neglect tests with higher speeds on motorways.

ODD definitions are particularly important for simulation-based tests. Standards are needed that allow stakeholders to exchange, compare and reuse ODD definitions. This is where ASAM OpenODD comes in: the standard will provide a machine-readable format that can represent a defined ODD for testing in simulations and other machine-processing environments. In addition, the format will be searchable, interchangeable, extensible, verifiable and human-readable so that it can be used for all other post-processing steps. In this way, ASAM OpenODD will help ensure that ADAS and autonomous driving systems can be developed not only safely, but also quickly, efficiently and reliably.

Another application example for the effective use of ASAM OpenODD is the cooperation between authorities and manufacturers of CAVs: A city administration can describe the ODD for its urban area in the ASAM OpenODD format and make it available to the car manufacturers. The manufacturers can then compare their vehicles with the defined ODD to find out whether their vehicle is allowed to drive in the respective city area. They can also use the descriptions to tailor their scenario test catalogue to the requirements of the ODD. The regulator has the advantage that they can review the ODDs and use them to approve autonomous vehicles.

Dr Siddartha Khastgir of WMG, University of Warwick, and leader of the ASAM OpenODD working group comments, “Defining the Operational Design Domain (ODD) is key to developing a safe automated vehicle. How an ODD is defined has not – to date – been officially defined. The concept for ASAM OpenODD lays the foundation for a language to define ODDs. This means that CAV manufacturers will be able to define and exchange ODD definitions in the future and that authorities will have a common understanding of the ODD definition. I am grateful to all the international experts who have contributed to this work. Achieving the safety of automated driving must be a collaborative effort and ASAM OpenODD is an example of that.”

Peter Voss, Executive Director of ASAM e.V. adds, “ASAM OpenODD will be a standard that not only contributes to the safety of automated vehicles, but more importantly helps to implement automated driving functions faster.”

The concept for ASAM OpenODD considers attributes (using ISO 34503), metrics and uncertainty representation, in addition to format and syntax. The future standard will be compatible with all other standards in the ASAM OpenX family, in particular ASAM OpenDRIVE, ASAM OpenSCENARIO and ASAM OpenXOntology.

The concept for ASAM OpenODD takes into account not only the format and syntax, but also attributes (using ISO 34503), metrics and the representation of uncertainties. The future standard will be compatible with all other standards of the ASAM OpenX family, in particular ASAM OpenDRIVE, ASAM OpenSCENARIO and ASAM OpenXOntology.

The ASAM OpenODD initiative takes into account and complements the ongoing international standardisation activities of BSI (BSI PAS 1883 – describes a taxonomy for ODDs) and ISO (ISO 34503 uses the taxonomy to provide a high-level definition format for ODDs for use by regulators, system engineers, local authorities, etc.). All three projects are in close contact.

So far, only the concept of ASAM OpenODD has been published. The working group to develop the standard is expected to start its work in April 2022. Potential users of a future standard are specialists in development, simulation, test procedures, security, data analysis, scenario editors and data labelling as well as infrastructure operators. The concept paper can be downloaded free of charge. Additional use cases or requirements can still be proposed before the standard development starts.

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