ARCHER - Architecture and Safety for Autonomous Heavy Vehicles

The purpose of the ARCHER project, a collaboration between KTH and Scania CV AB, is to develop methods and principles for safety analysis and verification, and to create a reference system architecture for a fully automated heavy vehicle.  A proof-of-concept realization for overall verification and validation of the reference architecture and developed methods is also included.

Autonomous vehicles are now (2015) at the top of the Gartner hype cycle. This relates to an increased cost-performance of enabling sensor, actuating and electronics technologies, and also to strong drivers for improving transport safety, efficiency, sustainability and comfort. Similar trends are seen in several domains including heavy vehicles, cars and aircraft.  However, this transition is facing multiple challenges including how to gradually evolve from current architectures to autonomous systems, limitations in legislation and safety standards, verification methodology and human-machine interaction. As a result, the Swedish automotive industry has to adapt and change from a mechatronics engineering industry to become a full-blown Cyber-Physical Systems engineering industry with a large and growing element of vehicle automation software operations as well as vehicle communication. The challenges also stimulate research in corresponding areas.

One of the major challenges for developing a fully automated heavy vehicle is to design and develop a system with an acceptable level of system safety. To develop such a system we need to develop new principles and methodologies for system architecture, safety analysis and verification - topics largely not covered by most projects in the area of autonomous vehicles. These challenges are particularly important in the case of fully automated heavy vehicles, i.e. no human driver available in the vehicle, considering vehicle weight, size, life span, operational scenarios and the number of produced variants. The business case for commercial vehicles is also very different from passenger cars, whose prime purpose mostly is to transport the driver. Commercial vehicles are a transport tool, where the driver is not part of the cargo but constitutes roughly a third of the transport cost.

Within the ARCHER project, the specific research topics (with respect to fully automated commercial heavy vehicles) aim to develop:

  • Methods and principles for safety analysis for verification of fully automated heavy vehicles:
    The purpose of safety analysis is to generate those requirements that the system needs to fulfill in order to operate in a safe manner. The safety part of ARCHER intends to evaluate the applicability of current best practices in automotive safety analysis (ISO26262) to autonomous vehicles, investigate whether new model based systems engineering methods can improve safety analysis and how a monitor/supervisor element in the architecture may improve operational safety.
  • Methods, and principles for verification of fully automated heavy vehicles:
    The purpose of verification and testing activities is to ensure that safety requirements are met. Verification by testing and simulation has limited use in systems of high complexity, such as autonomous heavy vehicles due to their vast input space.  Therefore the verification research within ARCHER intends to investigate verification by methods based on formal mathematics such as contract theory and Markov chains.
  • Architectural design methodologies for development of fully automated heavy vehicles; and a reference system architecture:
    The aim of the architecture part of the project is to develop a methodology for designing the system architecture of a vehicle, which allows functionally safe implementation of autonomous functionality. This entails methodology for on-line supervision of the system, safe functional degradation and connectivity to other vehicles and infrastructure. Furthermore, the architectural design methodology must take legacy and variability into account. It is the aim to deliver a reference architecture where the above methodology is implemented,

The ARCHER project will enable close cooperation between the involved researchers to facilitate development of a common methodology spanning from safety analysis to verification.

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