Autonomous vehicle safety standard defines operational design domain for AVs

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An operational design domain (ODD) is fundamental to the safety of connected autonomous vehicles. Now, thanks to work undertaken by German standardization body ASAM and lead researchers from WMG, University of Warwick in the UK, ODD has been properly defined for the first time.

An ODD definition describes specific operating conditions in which the automated driving system is designed to properly operate. It specifies what operating parameters the CAV must be able to manage; for example, weather conditions, infrastructure, location, time of day and everything else that can have an impact on the driving situation. The ODD is thus an important part of the safety concept of a vehicle and must be valid throughout its entire service life for a particular configuration of the CAV.

ASAM, a German standardization body, had been working with WMG, University of Warwick and other international experts to publish a new international standard concept to develop a language for defining ODDs. They have successfully created a concept for a machine-interpretable format to represent the ODD specification. The concept paper can be downloaded free of charge. Additional use cases or requirements can still be proposed before the standard development starts.

Th new format concept enables governments and the automotive industry to access ODD descriptions that are exchangeable, comparable and processable.

Dr Siddartha Khastgir from WMG, University of Warwick and project lead for the ASAM Open ODD Concept project, commented, “Operational design domain definition is key to creating a safe automated vehicle. However, an ODD hadn’t been officially defined until the ASAM OpenODD concept provided the language to define an ODD.

“This means that going forward, CAV manufacturers can define and exchange ODD definitions and authorities can 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 needs to be a collaborative effort and ASAM OpenODD is an example of this.”

An application example of the effective use of ASAM OpenODD is given as follows: A city describes the ODD for its downtown area in the ASAM OpenODD format and makes it available to automotive manufacturers. The manufacturers can then use these descriptions to easily match their vehicles with the defined ODD to find out if their vehicles are allowed to drive in the respective downtown area. They can also use the descriptions to map their scenario test catalogs to the requirements of the ODD.

The registration authorities have the benefit of defining ODDs that they can use to check autonomous vehicles. ODDs can also be used to support the development of the ADAS and AD systems, as the use of the ODD can define the test cases that are necessary to validate the vehicle. There can be obvious limitations; for example, highway tests are unnecessary if the vehicle is incapable of speeds above 50km/h. This application of an ODD helps to focus the limited validation resources on the really necessary scenarios.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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