August 27, 2015

In the 1980’s, the use of programmable electronic components such as microcontrollers (MCUs) and microprocessors in industrial control systems began to grow. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) set up study groups to examine the functional safety of electronic programmable systems and to develop guidelines for the development of safe systems. Since then, compliance to functional safety standards has become a customer-influenced requirement for end equipment developers in automotive and many industrial applications.

The first standard intended to apply to a wide variety of industrial systems was the IEC 61508 first edition, “Functional safety of electrical/electronic/programmable electronic safety-related systems,” published in 1998. In 2011, the automotive functional safety standard ISO 26262 “Road vehicles — Functional safety” was published. The purpose of both standards is to establish requirements that reduce potential risk of physical injury and damage to the health of people due to product failure. They call for implementing a robust development process, performing upfront hazard and risk analysis, and implementing product risk reduction in both hardware and software.

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