November 21, 2023

New development standard for safe automated driving - result of the joint project Verification and Validation Methods

A total of 21 project participants worked on the methodological design of a model that can create the basis for demonstrating safety in automated vehicles.


  • Focus on safety: The safety standard must be technically proven for the traffic authorisation of automated systems and vehicles.
  • The joint project Verification and Validation Methods (VVM) is the first to provide a model for this necessary proof of safety for automated driving systems in urban environments.
  • Automated driving of the future: project results provide orientation for the entire industry and strengthen competitiveness.
  • Focal points: Automated driving, urban traffic, simulation

The German Aerospace Centre (DLR) has joined forces with the German automotive industry in a joint project with 21 project participants and developed the world's first structures to make safety standards for automated vehicles in urban environments verifiable. Four years after the start of the joint project Verification and Validation Methods (VVM), the results are now available. The pre-competitive research project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection and initiated by the VDA Lead Initiative for Autonomous and Connected Driving, will go into detail about the findings at the final presentation today and meet for dialogue in the Carl Benz Arena in Stuttgart.

The higher the level of automated driving and the more complex the area of application of a system, the more factors need to be taken into account during development. The first SAE Level 3 systems for motorway driving and an SAE Level 4 system for driverless parking have already been approved. For an extension to other areas of application - such as urban traffic - the complexity and requirements for the vehicle and system will increase significantly. For this reason, suitable verification and validation methods are required, which was the focus of the VVM project working group.

The challenge of city traffic

"Pedestrians, cyclists, motorised two-wheelers, intersections that are difficult to see: One of the biggest challenges in automated driving is controlling traffic in an urban environment. This is characterised by many road users, traffic light systems, traffic signs and vehicles," says Roland Galbas from Bosch, head of the VVM consortium project. "In order for the vehicle to be able to master even the rarest of scenarios in the future, it needs comprehensible structures and processes that not only enable the safe operation of a system in exceptional situations, but can also demonstrate safe manoeuvring."

"The VVM research project is dedicated precisely to proving that the automated driving functions react safely and reliably and also represent a benefit for the customer in terms of precision and quality," says Dr Mark Schiementz from BMW, also head of the project. "Flanked by regulations, the German automotive industry is guided by the principle of not only bringing the fastest technological progress to the road, but also providing safe vehicles and systems that can be relied on at all times. And this reliability begins with the development of these systems."

Prerequisite for traffic authorisation: Proven safety

The safety principle is already a top priority in the design and development of automated driving functions. Accordingly, these safety functions must be verified for a vehicle to be approved for road use and certified for road traffic. In order to be able to provide this proof, the 21 project participants have jointly developed a model consisting of various procedures, methods and tools. A so-called safety argumentation can be used to prove that the system is safe to use.

The project participants worked together on several sub-projects to develop the methodology for this model. If applied across the industry, the defined model would create the basis for proving safety in automated vehicles. "The models developed here make it possible for the first time to provide all car manufacturers with the same structures for the verification and validation of automated driving systems in urban environments. This standardisation could then also lead to industry-wide standards that can make road traffic even safer for all road users," explains Helmut Schittenhelm, project coordinator at Mercedes-Benz.

Technology pioneer from Germany

The methodological approach from the VVM project is the world's first standard that also takes industrial processes into account. This once again makes the German automotive industry a technological pioneer in automated driving. The world's first regulation for fully automated driving (SAE Level 4) came into force in 2021 with a corresponding law in Germany. In 2022, a corresponding ordinance with the technical details was passed to allow such vehicles to be authorised and operated on German roads. The German automotive industry is thus once again tackling the complexity of automated driving and making it more manageable.

At the end of its project term and building on the results of the previous Pegasus and SetLevel projects, VVM will for the first time deliver a consistent methodical safety approach for automated driving in urban environments, which will enable industry-wide collaboration and value creation. The scenario-based safety verification approach pursued in the project could help to set global standards once it has been approved by the authorities. VVM has created a future-relevant reference system for the industry that closes a methodological gap for practical validation and consolidates the German industry's pioneering role in international competition in automated driving.

DLR on board as simulation expert

In the project, DLR mainly focussed on the use of simulation methods and their role in the verification and validation process. To this end, the simulations were adapted for various process steps and used as examples. Particular attention was paid to proving that the simulations deliver reliable results.