Intent and key principles
ANSI/UL 4600 Standard for Safety for the Evaluation of Autonomous Products encompasses fully autonomous systems that move such as self-driving cars along with applications in mining, agriculture, maintenance, and other vehicles including lightweight unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It seeks to specifically address the ability of autonomous products to perform safely and as intended — without human intervention — based on their current state and sensing of the operating environment. Reliability of hardware and software necessary for machine learning, sensing of operating environment and other safety aspects of autonomy is also addressed. It is envisioned that future end-product standards will tailor UL 4600 to address specialized applications.
The Standard uses a claim-based approach which prescribes topics that must be addressed in creating a safety case. It is intended to address changes required from traditional safety practices to accommodate autonomy, such as lack of human operator to take fault mitigation actions.
Topics covered in the Standard include safety case construction, risk analysis, safety relevant aspects of design process, testing, tool qualification, autonomy validation, data integrity, human-machine interaction (for non-drivers), life cycle concerns, metrics and conformance assessment. Security is addressed as a requirement, but details are currently outside the scope of the proposed Standard.
Conversely, UL 4600 does not cover performance criteria or define pass/fail criteria for safety; nor does it benchmark the road testing of prototype vehicles. The standard does not set acceptable risk levels nor set forth requirements for ethical product release decisions and any ethical aspects of product behavior.
UL 4600 remains technology neutral, meaning that it does not mandate the use of any specific technology in creating the autonomous system, and it also permits design process flexibility. Furthermore, it covers validation of any machine learning-based functionality and other autonomy functions used in life critical applications.
Compliance with UL 4600 permits (but does not require conformance to) other safety standards such as ISO 26262, ISO/PAS 21448, IEC 61508, MIL STD 882, etc., as well as security standards where such conformity is demonstrated.
A webinar was held in October 2019 to provide an overview of UL 4600 to coincide with the release of the standard's review draft.
Standards Technical Panel membership
The Standards Technical Panel (STP) includes subject matter experts from fields including automotive manufacturers, robotics, aviation, rail, process control safety and military systems. Other participants represent a consumer advocacy organization, insurance companies, state and federal government transportation and regulatory agencies and universities.
The STP has strong international participation with representatives from the U.S., Germany, United Kingdom, Sweden, China, Japan, Singapore and other countries. Organizations and individuals with interest or technical expertise in the subject category are encouraged to apply for membership on the UL 4600 Standards Technical Panel or to participate as a stakeholder by registering at CSDS.ul.com.
The development effort also received considerable support from a broad set of international stakeholders. These partners also provided significant time and effort, and Underwriters Laboratories is grateful for their contributions.
The knowledge shared and questions asked by this diverse group of panel members and stakeholders is conducive to an effective, sustainable standard thanks to the unique perspectives each participant brings to the process.
If you have questions, comments or would like more information about collaborating with UL Standards on this or other standards development work, please contact us via our secure online form.
UL 4600 addresses safety principles and processes for evaluating fully autonomous products requiring no human driver supervision.
UL Standards developed this standard in partnership with Edge Case Research, a recognized leader in development of autonomous systems.
In addition to autonomous vehicles, the standard can be applied to products used in mining, agriculture and maintenance as well as other products including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The Standard can be purchased or viewed digitally for free at shopULstandards.com (registration required).