5 Challenges with International Vehicle Controls & Telematics - Challenge 5: Safety

There are so many facets involved when it comes to safety that covering all of it would take days. But here are some highlights of the challenges, or opportunities and hopefully that sparks some more discussion.



Reliability is one of the least talked about points when discussing safety. Frequently, people will ask, “What happens when a failure occurs and what can we do about it? To begin with, let’s take a step back and try to remove the failure from ever happening, or limit the number of occurrences that the failure happens. In some parts of the world, organizations are approaching this through a variety of different methods including Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF), Mean Time To Failure (MTTF), Mean Time Between Dangerous Failure (MTBFd), or Mean Time To Dangerous Failure (MTTFd). In our industry of mobile electronics we generally are not concerned with Mean Time Between Failures. Typically, if there is a failure the electronic component is tossed out and a new one is put in its place.

In different parts of the world, mainly Europe, these calculation methods are applied to a full system to determine its reliability.


Detection or redundancy can sometimes beg the question, “Doesn’t that mean I need more parts and hence the system is less reliable?” This is a valid point, it can be difficult to create a good balance between reliability and the ability to detect the issue at hand, especially if it’s in a critical system where you can potential cause injury or death.

Again, this is currently primarily maintained in the EU but as safety rises in passenger vehicles we see a migration to standards such as SIL (Safety Integrity Level), and PL (Performance Level) in the heavy duty mobile machinery market. Sometimes it takes a leader to push the path.


What happens when there is an issue? Do we stop everything? Do we limit functionality? Right now these situations are decided mainly by the OEM, sometimes the country and sometimes — for instance in the crane industry — it is decided by a committee and the OEM typically follows the paths set.

Being able to diagnose the issue is one critical path in creating a safe system. Sometimes diagnostics can be as easy as adding a sensor to ensure that what you command is actually happening, other times it takes much more effort and software to determine what is happening.

By being able to see into the heart of the machine we can log when and how issues occur, locally or through telematics systems. These logs can help us create more reliable systems in the future and even help us predict when a failure may occur, through predictive maintenance also known as prognostics.


Going back to harmonizing standards, organizations like IEC and ISO have created standards such as IEC 61508 and ISO 26262 for passenger vehicles and heavy duty on and off highway vehicles in an attempt to create a global standard around vehicle safety. These are being adopted by markets and regions around the world. As these standards are adopted by other countries there is a big push to adapt further for market and regional needs.

What is the best plan for the future and creating a safe, reliable machine that is more productive than ever with edge technologies like IoT and smarter control systems? I believe it begins with an acceptance of failure and an increased emphasis on global collaboration, harmonization and trust.




Related Blog Posts:

Challenge 1: Harmonizing Standards

Challenge 2: Frequencies of 4G and 5G

Challenge 3: Data Privacy Laws

Challenge 4: Coding Practices

Meet the Author

Vehicle Controls & Intelligence Cooperative is a collective effort by the organization to leverage knowledge, creative writing and various points of view by organizational thought leaders. The teams goal is to provide engaging and relevant content to educate the HED customer base and industry followers of vehicle controls, manual interfaces and telematics technology.



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