Alexander Kraus, Business Unit Manager Automotive at TÜV SÜD, talks in this interview about the responsibilities of inspection bodies, which need to reflect the changing demands on mobility by acting as independent partners of car drivers and owners, industry and politics.
Mr Kraus, some experts forecast that in the coming years, mobility will undergo the most significant transformation since the transition from horse-drawn carriages to motorised vehicles. How is TÜV SÜD preparing for this change?
It is certainly correct that the mobility sector is undergoing dramatic change: autonomous driving, shared mobility and alternative drive systems such as electromobility will set the pace. This is a huge opportunity for us. We intend to position ourselves in the very forefront of this development as an independent partner for the industry. We plan to be involved right from the development phase and provide integrated whole-vehicle life-cycle support. We aim to play an active role in the development of future regulations and know how to apply them. At the end of the day, new technologies in the automotive industry will necessitate the introduction of new standards.
What standards do you have in mind?
In the future, driving will touch upon many areas of our life, from legal questions in damage claims to ethical responsibility when modern technological systems take over decisions that used to be made by drivers. Requirements for IT security need to be defined and the government needs to develop new legal framework conditions – for example, in the field of mandatory driving licenses. We also need to define how we can ensure reliable interaction between the various systems on the vehicle. An exciting time for all parties involved!
You have addressed the subject of “interaction of various systems”. Will the test methods of the past still work in tomorrow's world?
New powertrain technologies, like those for electric vehicles, naturally also require future oriented test methods, such as electronic diagnostic systems for charging connections. We will be working with the government and authorities on developing standardised test methods to ensure high safety standards. In this context, we have started early to invest in the continued training and education of our staff. Let me give you one simple example: Voltages of over 400 V are measured in electric vehicles, compared to between 12 and 24 V in conventional vehicles – a big difference.
The issue of “safety” and “security” will raise many new questions, for example where autonomous driving is concerned. Can TÜV SÜD together with TÜV Hessen already give reliable answers?
In view of the rising number of driver assistance systems on board of new vehicles, the first steps have already been taken. The question we must now ask ourselves is, how reliable and safe are these systems? These safety and security issues will literally become a matter of life and death in the future – at the latest, when drivers are no longer actively in control and vehicles no longer have a steering wheel. They apply both to the passengers in the car and to everybody around it, such as pedestrians.
Some people are afraid that the spread of connectivity will make vehicles vulnerable to hacker attacks from the outside. Is this concern justified?
Requirements imposed on IT security in cars will certainly become stricter. However, the same can be said for almost all areas of life where connectivity is on the rise. Given this, it is important for today’s OEMs to realise that certain requirements such as encrypted end-to-end communication are indispensable. Security updates in vehicle software must be delivered automatically at regular intervals, and the updates themselves must conform to the highest security standards. And we must ensure that the personal data of drivers are protected at any times. The TÜV organisations will play their part in inspiring trust in this new technology. Without trust it will ultimately fail to become established on the market.
What kind of support do you provide for this integrated approach?
We are firmly on course to embrace the technologies of the future. In Germany and Singapore, we are working on ground-breaking projects in autonomous driving. One of our internal lighthouse projects concerns highly automated driving (HAD). Our portfolio of services in this field covers the whole vehicle, from homologation and safety and security to emission measurements.
How important is international business?
International business is becoming more and more important for us. In areas, such as emission measurement, we are the only provider of technical services with accreditations for Korea and China. Global market access and internationalisation of business are among our key objectives. (SP)