‘What pro­jects are you imple­ment­ing?’, ‘What solu­tions are you work­ing on?’ and ‘What does the pro­ject involve?’ — these and many oth­er sim­il­ar ques­tions are what we try to answer to can­did­ates dur­ing recruit­ment pro­cesses. In a con­ver­sa­tion with Mateusz Kwaśnik, pro­ject man­ager Wer­onika, our recruit­er, provides details of one of our pro­jects that could revolu­tion­ise road safety. What tech­no­lo­gies are we intro­du­cing in new cars, how do we meet the strin­gent require­ments of the European Uni­on and what bene­fits will our solu­tions bring to drivers and ped­es­tri­ans? — You will find the answers to these and many oth­er ques­tions in the inter­view. Read on to get a behind-the-scenes look at our work and find out how today’s tech­no­logy is shap­ing the future of motoring.

Wer­onika: What are the main object­ives of the project?

Mateusz: Some time ago, the European Uni­on intro­duced reg­u­la­tions that aim to increase road safety for vehicles, their occu­pants and to min­im­ise risks to oth­er users. The effect of these moves is to require cars to be ret­ro­fit­ted with at least 20 sys­tems, com­pon­ents or oth­er items to meet addi­tion­al safety con­di­tions. This require­ment is very restrict­ive and has been tar­geted at new cars com­ing off the pro­duc­tion line.

W: How can our pro­ject have an impact on the auto­mot­ive industry?

M: In this par­tic­u­lar case, our pro­ject is some­thing of a depar­ture from the require­ments set out in the reg­u­la­tion, which, in my opin­ion, will change the mar­ket as well as the entire auto­mot­ive industry in Europe very strongly. For example, fail­ure to com­ply with the require­ments in mod­els already in pro­duc­tion will res­ult in pro­duc­tion stop­ping and cer­tain car mod­els going out of pro­duc­tion. We will cer­tainly lead to an increase in road safety, we will elim­in­ate, to some extent, errors res­ult­ing from the human factor in cer­tain situ­ations and, last but not least, we will secure vehicles against cyber attacks or reduce the risk of unau­thor­ised use of vehicles. Unfor­tu­nately, there is also a very import­ant non-design aspect here. Man­u­fac­tur­ers are likely to pass on the costs of imple­ment­ing these solu­tions to us, the con­sumers, so let us be pre­pared for an increase in the price of new cars.

W: What spe­cif­ic func­tions or tech­no­lo­gic­al solu­tions is our team devel­op­ing to improve driver and pas­sen­ger safety?

M: Our team focuses primar­ily on the oper­a­tion of cam­er­as or vari­ous types of sensors, their ana­lys­is and rap­id com­mu­nic­a­tion of the col­lec­ted inform­a­tion from the road (along with act­ive mon­it­or­ing of com­mu­nic­a­tion between com­pon­ents inside the vehicle), dia­gnostics and secur­ity devel­op­ment related to data and memory secur­ity. Fur­ther­more, we are act­ively involved in the area of soft­ware archi­tec­ture or vehicle func­tion­al safety. Our code and solu­tions work in the so-called back­ground while driv­ing and, as a res­ult, the driver receives a series of spe­cif­ic inform­a­tion, mes­sages or warn­ings from the cur­rent driv­ing situ­ation. This can be inform­a­tion about road haz­ards, unex­pec­ted move­ments and the beha­viour of oth­er drivers as well as act­ive sup­port for the driver in spe­cif­ic situations.

W: What steps do we take to ensure that our solu­tions com­ply with the highest safety standards?

M: The man­ner and qual­ity of our work has been effi­ciently placed in a V‑model accord­ing to Auto­mot­ive ASPICE (where the vari­ous stages of the work in terms of design, imple­ment­a­tion and test­ing are clearly and in great detail). This approach to pro­ject man­age­ment allows the require­ments of the dir­ect­ive itself and the spe­cif­ic arrange­ments from the cus­tom­er to be man­aged effi­ciently. The key here is ASPICE’s trans­par­ency, which even requires a cer­tain qual­ity of work to be main­tained and min­im­ises pos­sible soft­ware errors. Stand­ards such as ISO 21434 (Cyber­se­cur­ity) , ISO 26262 (Func­tion­al Safety) and ISO 27001 (TISAX) can­not be over­looked as essen­tial com­ple­ments to the qual­ity approach in a pro­ject. In this type of pro­ject, it is even a require­ment to act in accord­ance with the adop­ted stand­ards accord­ing to a strin­gent set of rules. The pro­ver­bi­al buckle-down of the afore­men­tioned stand­ards is reserved for the AGILE approach, where we take on tasks in an agile man­ner and react flex­ibly to design or con­cep­tu­al changes from the customer.

W: If you had to trans­late what we do in the pro­ject into what a driver and/or road user might exper­i­ence, how would you describe it?

M: The driver will be provided with a range of solu­tions that will clearly com­mu­nic­ate dangers and, in some situ­ations, even help with driv­ing. Take, for example, a situ­ation where the driver (due to poor vis­ib­il­ity at dusk) will not be able to see a ped­es­tri­an. In this situ­ation, the cam­era and radar in the front of the car will register the per­son, and the built-in soft­ware will addi­tion­ally recog­nise the ‘object’ in front and inform the driver or even force the vehicle to stop auto­mat­ic­ally. Oth­er examples include act­ive sup­port for the driver in keep­ing the vehicle in the lane (redu­cing the poten­tial risk of a col­li­sion), detec­tion and mon­it­or­ing of the driver­’s fatigue level, or even an act­ive sys­tem for recog­nising traffic signs and inform­ing of pos­sible speed­ing offences

W: When did you feel that what you were doing would make a real dif­fer­ence to the safety of those on the roads — pedestrians/drivers?

M: The first insights into the real­ity of what we were doing came quite quickly because on review­ing the require­ments and design assump­tions. The second (almost tan­gible example) was to observe how the sys­tem of sensors and cam­er­as picks up new objects on its way, marks them and ana­lyses the data accord­ingly. It was hugely impress­ive to identi­fy people who were very faintly vis­ible to the driver. It was then that it occurred to me that what we were doing was really going in a very good dir­ec­tion and that we were doing some­thing that would make a real dif­fer­ence to the safety of myself, my loved ones and oth­er road users. Immod­estly, I have to admit that there was an ele­ment of pride because of the ser­i­ous­ness and com­plex­ity of the pro­ject and the import­ance of the whole endeav­our. It is quite a priv­ilege for me to be part of such an import­ant ini­ti­at­ive and such a great team, which per­forms its tasks with great pre­ci­sion and commitment.

W: Are the high demands of vari­ous stand­ards and cer­ti­fic­a­tions a bur­eau­crat­ic require­ment, or some­thing that makes a real dif­fer­ence to what a car own­er gets?

M: Argu­ably, some people might say that the EU imposes a num­ber of ill-con­sidered require­ments on car man­u­fac­tur­ers. So far we have seen a num­ber of such ini­ti­at­ives, which I think is good for us and even required. The num­ber of acci­dents on the roads is increas­ing along with the num­ber of cars on the roads. The striv­ing to min­im­ise risks and to assist the driver in driv­ing safely should grow in strength and import­ance. If, by means of sim­il­ar reg­u­la­tions, the num­ber of acci­dents, vic­tims or fatal­it­ies on the roads is reduced, then this is, in my opin­ion, the best pos­sible ini­ti­at­ive, because our life and health and that of our loved ones comes first.

W: How does test­ing this (auto­mot­ive) soft­ware dif­fer from oth­er sys­tems? M: When our code and the res­ults of our work are respons­ible for the lives of drivers and oth­er road users, we have a num­ber of very strict con­di­tions to meet. The afore­men­tioned 100% test cov­er­age is basic­ally a giv­en. Thanks to this meth­od, we can catch many irreg­u­lar­it­ies at an early stage of imple­ment­a­tion. It is also worth men­tion­ing integ­ra­tion tests, val­id­a­tion tests, pen­et­ra­tion tests, sys­tem tests, accept­ance tests or even a series of very thor­ough and exhaust­ive tests in a real car on a spe­cially pre­pared test site. The applic­a­tion of all these veri­fic­a­tion and test­ing meth­ods is aimed at deliv­er­ing to the end cus­tom­er a car that is inten­ded to guar­an­tee an even high­er level of safety. There­fore, there are no half-meas­ures or turning.