Vehicle Check: Data Read-out Onboard and Offboard

More and more driver assistance systems are introduced into modern vehicles, paving the way for automated driving. Dipl.-Ing. Frank Leimbach explains what this means for vehicle testing.

Photo: Fotolia - Vege

An automated vehicle has mechanical parts such as tires, suspension, brakes, too. Photo: Fotolia – Vege

Electronic driver assistance systems represent a big step in the development of automated vehicles. What role does DEKRA play here?

DEKRA sits on a variety of select committees, including for the United Nations (UNECE). Topics here include autonomous driving and cyber security. We act as a consultant for international legislators. We are concerned with ensuring that – even in the future – only safe vehicles with fully-developed systems make it onto our roads, and that they remain fully-functional throughout the vehicle’s life cycle.

What does the increase in automation mean for vehicle inspections?

Even highly-automated vehicles have mechanical components, such as wheels, steering, chassis and brakes. These will still be closely examined by the test engineer. In addition, the electronics that enable autonomous driving will also be rigorously tested. Exclusive performance evaluations will not be practical, due to the complexity of the systems. The usage of information from the vehicle will therefore increase in value. We will assess far more data from the vehicle than we have to date. Once the actual state has been ascertained, this is compared against an external database that contains the target states of system functions and software statuses. Due to future wireless software update possibilities, many more variants will be created, and in shorter time periods. This means that access to the data will be indispensable for regular inspections.

Dipl.-Ing. Frank Leimbach, Leiter des Bereichs „Konzernrepräsentanz Technische Angelegenheiten“ bei DEKRA. Foto: DEKRA

Frank Leimbach, Head of Technical Affairs at  DEKRA. Foto: DEKRA

Will there be new concepts for the general inspection? What about the type approvals?

The type approval comes before anything else, and ensures that only tested and approved systems and vehicles are permitted out on the open road. A vehicle that the manufacturer presents one day can be an entirely different one the next, if new, safety-relevant functions are installed via a software update. The general inspection ensures that traffic safety is maintained throughout the vehicle’s operational life. Increased cyber security demands in the future will mean that hardware will need to be upgraded or replaced after just a few years, and therefore also require new certification.

Will the demands placed on vehicle inspectors change with automation?

DEKRA test engineers will need to maintain a working knowledge of current technologies. They must know how each electronic system should function, and what it should be able to do. They must be aware of the different driving functions that can be impacted by a defective sensor that serves multiple systems. The test engineer must evaluate what this means for the safety of the system as a whole. This doesn’t require them to become an IT or cyber-expert. They will, however, require access to the onboard and external data, as well as the appropriate tools to perform the inspection.




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