Meeting ISO 26262 Compliance: A Guide to Success with Model-Based Design

Blog on Meeting ISO 26262 Compliance A Guide to Success with Model-Based Design

This blog dives into how to achieve ISO 26262 compliance with model-based design using MATLAB and Simulink. Including key areas, workflows, & best practices for developing safety-critical software.

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ISO 26262 compliance isn’t merely about meeting standards; it’s about navigating a landscape where each design choice bears weight, in which safety is paramount, not negotiable.

In recent decades, model-based design has become integral to automotive engineering, particularly in developing algorithms for embedded systems using MATLAB® and Simulink®. From engine controllers to autonomous driving systems, engineers are relying ever more on this approach when it comes to innovation. With vehicles increasingly reliant on automated systems, meeting functional safety standards such as  ISO 26262, a standard providing guidelines across system-, hardware-, and software development, has proven invaluable. To aid in compliance, MathWorks’ IEC Certification Kit offers a structured workflow adaptable to model-based design. Adopting modeling practices aligned with ISO 26262 is key for success, ensuring compatibility and reducing development effort.

Why ISO 26262?

ISO 26262 is pivotal in automotive engineering for ensuring safety in increasingly complex electronic systems. The standard provides comprehensive guidelines, fostering a systematic approach to managing functional safety throughout the development lifecycle. The ISO 26262 standard serves as a guiding framework for developers, training focus on the functional safety aspects of electrical and/or electronic systems.

Key areas addressed by ISO 26262 include:

  • Defining the stages of the development process essential for ensuring functional safety;
  • Providing guidance on the management of functional safety;
  • Breaking down functional safety considerations for systems engineering, hardware engineering, and software engineering;
  • Establishing methods for utilizing Automotive Safety Integrity Levels (“ASILs”) to determine safety requirements and acceptable risk levels;
  • Offering direction on acceptance criteria for ASIL-based validation operations.


Development platforms such as MATLAB and Simulink for model-based design empower users to create deployable algorithms for various embedded systems. Simulink further facilitates the early and frequent verification of these algorithms throughout the development cycle. The IEC Certification Kit reference workflow leverages these capabilities to offer a comprehensive framework for generating testable unit models, integration models, and system-level models. This workflow is structured into two distinct sections, as illustrated in the figure below.

The IEC Certification Kit reference workflow
The IEC Certification Kit reference workflow

Many companies have turned to MathWorks products to navigate these standards, resulting in numerous success stories. Through model-based design, organizations are effectively tackling engineering challenges inherent in achieving ISO 26262 compliance, from developing safety-critical software to rigorous testing. To explore real-world applications and gain insights into such innovative approaches, take a deep dive into the success stories below, which include all of the fine technical details about ISO 26262 implementation.

  1. KOSTAL Asia R&D Center Receives ISO 26262 ASIL D Certification for Automotive Software Developed with Model-Based Design – MATLAB & Simulink
  2. Developing AUTOSAR- and ISO 26262-Compliant Software for a Hybrid Vehicle Battery Management System with Model-Based Design – MATLAB & Simulink
  3. Developing an Autonomous Traffic Simulation Framework for Functional Safety Testing – MATLAB & Simulink

Most FAQ about ISO:

Can this workflow be applied to other safety standards?

With the IEC Certification Kit you can develop embedded systems that also comply with ISO® 26262, IEC 61508, ISO 25119, EN 50128, EN 50657, and IEC 62304. The kit supports ASIL A through ASIL D (for ISO 26262) and SIL 1 through SIL 4 (for IEC 61508). View the entire list of supported standards and products here:

How is it possible to ensure various software components are free from interference?

Architectures which effectively partition these algorithms into independent containers have proven advantageous for systems including several ASIL components. The benefit can be attributed to:

Each ASIL’s ability has different development, validation, and verification requirements; andSeparating and segmenting ASILs, enabling freedom from interference.  

Since various ASILs will be split, a modeling construct should be chosen which aids in that segmentation. The use of model references will ensure a firm boundary for components with different ASIL levels, thus eliminating interference.

What are the best practices for unit testing?

One of the main focal points in Part 6 of ISO 26262 is the workflow for developing, validating, and verifying software units. The modeling construct used for unit development needs to take various aspects into consideration, including unit testability.

Model references are ideal constructs for software unit development and also for test harness construction.

How does “hardware-in-the-loop” testing fit into the workflow?

Simulink Test automates  in-the-loop testing, including software-in-the-loop and processor-in-the-loop with MathWorks’ Embedded Coder (and hardware-in-the-loop with Simulink Real-Time™), and provides pass/fail reports with coverage metrics from Simulink Coverage.

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  • 11 Best Practices for Developing ISO 26262 Applications with Simulink
    Discover the essential guide to mastering ISO 26262 compliance with Simulink. Dive into the 11 best practices for developing robust and safe applications in just a few simple steps.
    Read the whitepaper here
  • 2 Parts Workshop series: Meeting ISO 26262 Compliance: A Guide to Success with Model-based Design
    In Part 1, we walked through the model-based design process for ISO 26262, from system design to software development.
    Watch the video now
  • Training Course: Applying Model-Based Design for ISO 26262
    This five-day course describes guiding principles for applying Model-Based Design to meet ISO 26262 certification. It enables users to take advantage of the Simulink® environment to synthesize, implement, and validate their software components in a manner consistent with the principles of ISO 26262.
    Learn more


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