How to make next Embedded Systems safe?


As we know, embedded solutions became inevitable part of our living and we keep them around all the time without any hesitation. There is a fundamental aspect that is very significant about these embedded solutions: safer working of these gadgets when we use them or keep them with us.

As the designer, you have the responsibility to ensure your creations keep working without disturbing their users or the environment where they are functioning. This is a very important issue which takes backseat during design phase of the product. So far, most of the solutions designed are meant for table-top applications or put into use in laboratories or factory work tables. Now you are trying to equip your customers with new facilities and encourage them to do more with your solutions and subsequently make them stick with your products for more time.

Now, time has come to make sure that your embedded system should be working fine without causing any disturbance to your customers or the environment where systems are put into use. The batteries which go with these systems demand your attention to keep them safe in all working environments. The Lithium ion batteries can become smoke-bombs when the environment gets very hot.

These safety issues are managed in different ways, depending on the applications. In few selected areas, the faults should be identified in advance and suitable corrections should be applied in time. Aviation systems come with these features with suitable redundant systems, in which, a faulty system is substituted with a good one to ensure the aircrafts keep working and naturally they become very expensive.

Now, designers have to start thinking of fusing certain safety features within their designs right from the concept. European market already defined standards to address safety issues with the electronic products: IEC61508. Main requirement of these safety demands is to force your solution into safe stopping under the disturbing operating conditions. Since most of the designers develop products for the competitive markets, the need is not to rectify the faults on the fly when the system gets into trouble. But the products should be designed with the capability to keep monitoring the operations of the hardware and software components and in the case of any trouble, just push the system into stop to avoid propagating the fault to next level.

Literally time has come for the designers taking these safety aspects into their designs. May be soon European markets can demand the compliance of embedded systems with the safety standards for the obvious reasons.

When you decide to fuse these safety within your designs, you should start with the suitable micons for your applications.

Welcome Renesas RL78 Microcontroller family. This family of micons come with plenty of built-in safety elements enabling you to implement safer designs meeting the required standards. The following figure gives you the total picture on the available features of the controller.

As you can see the micon helps you to keep the required checks in both hardware as well as in software parts of your solution. You can keep track of execution of your application code using the CRC checks on code as well as the data, memory guard functions. Then you can also watch the operations of your hardware very easily for any erroneous conditions.

For almost all these error conditions, you can generate resets and interrupts to take the required steps. Most of the time, you may tend to push the hardware into reset conditions to prevent any further deterioration. The micon also comes with a built-in temperature sensor to keep the track on the working environment.

But the whole thing is easily said than done in real. To get a fool proof design, you need to change your design approach right from the scratch. You need to place suitable checkpoints in your hardware design as well as your software architecture. Effective interrupt and reset usage is very much required to complete the picture.

With these available facilities, you can let the micon running in the precise environments and jump the controller into safer state on sensing a troubling condition. Then your creations become compatible to european safety standards and you become most wanted in your designer community.