Stantec Generation AV - AV Deployment: Safety Assessment Process

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autonomous vehicle safety assessment process

A holistic approach for safe deployments

At Stantec GenerationAV™, our mission is to accelerate widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles (AVs). Not because we think the technology is super cool (which we do), but because AVs hold a promise of a safer future. To truly achieve that safer future though, we need to take every step necessary to safely deploy these vehicles.

Safety is the driving force in any autonomous vehicle (AV) deployment. Safety is foundational.

Our safety assessment process is built around 12 essential elements that can all be used independently or collectively to cover all safety considerations that will enable confident deployments.

Our transportation planning consultants work with clients every step of the way, tangibly demonstrating the importance of safety across every element, from the vehicle environment to operational practices, and to ensure a healthy safety culture. The final outcome is a level of trust and confidence in any AV deployment, safe in the knowledge that all efforts have been taken to evaluate and mitigate any identified safety risks and hazards.

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The need for a holistic safety assessment

Safety, as perceived by users, is a prerequisite for the successful widespread deployment of AVs. There is currently no single standard, best practice, or guideline that covers AV safety in a holistic manner. This is of concern as the identification and mitigation of risks and hazards extends beyond the driving system and the Operational Design Domain (ODD) and into the organization.

AVs are both driven and bound by safety.

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The Stantec GenerationAV™ safety assessment process

A process is key for a holistic assessment as there are multiple methodologies, standards, best practices, and areas involved. It begins with an initial assessment of the ODD, then to vehicle safety and security systems, management and operations, and finally to field monitoring and evaluation with feedback and resolution.

The Safety Assessment can be used by AV Developers and Operators, as well as deploying agencies and companies, for all ground vehicle applications including sidewalk robots, low-speed autonomous shuttles, personal vehicles, robotaxis, and commercial trucks.

The deliverables, based upon a Third Party Independent Assessment Report(s), include:

  • Risk assessment and analysis
  • Risk identification, quantification, and mitigation measures
  • Safety metrics
  • Recommendations for improvement
  • SME and Specialist External Partner knowledge and experience


holistic av safety assessment

Planning & deployment
Management & operations
Monitor & evaluate
Final deliverable

Planning & deployment

A fundamental element regarding readiness of AV deployments is a thorough risk assessment and analysis of the ODD. This starts with the core definition of the ODD as understood by the client, gaps identified, and then further developed and expanded if required. With the ODD defined, the proposed route(s) would be analyzed through detailed route risk assessment and analysis. We’ll quantify the risks through our proprietary tools — then define the mitigation strategies and control measures. Testing sets can also be developed of representative edge case scenarios for verification through simulation and testing.

Using the GenerationAV Industry Analytics platform as a reference guide, the proposed vehicle requirements will be reviewed and will include the vehicle platform, specifications, performance, Automated Driving System (ADS) elements, and connectivity. The requirements will be assessed against overall vehicle, system, and sub-system capabilities. We’ll also cover the application capabilities of the vehicle, including storage, charging, infrastructure requirements, and environmental factors.

The System Risk Assessment is focused on the testing and validation processes and the analysis of the functional safety, as well as ensuring software versions and revisions running on each vehicle are clearly documented and recorded. We’ll carry out a cybersecurity review related to technical and operational controls for the vehicle deployment and related components to ensure there’s a robust process to identify, prioritize, and mitigate cyber threats.

In this assessment, we’ll identify the ADS risks within the specified ODD and defined route network/area from environmental to object sensing, classification identification, and decision making. This will also assess potentially hazardous scenarios and interactions with other road users, including edge cases. We’ll identify and quantify risks using our proprietary tools developed by our mass transit and transportation planning consulting teams, reducing them through recommended mitigation strategies.

For the purposes of testing, maintenance, and storage, this assessment will cover any facility that is specifically used during AV deployment. It’s expected to have unique features, processes, and controls to ensure the safety of personnel, the facility, and the vehicle. Depending on the facility and AV activities, additional areas will be added.

At this point, our traffic control consultants consider the multiple interactions between the vehicle and persons in all modes of transportation. This also includes physical elements and communication between the vehicle passengers and pedestrians. We’ll cover options and operations for vehicle ingress and egress, ADA compliance, passive and active safety devices, and restraining systems.

This will cover minimally acceptable mapping for the ODD and related redundancies through an assessment of mapping methodology, mapping vehicle inspection, localization analysis, and preliminary mapping execution. Our mass transit consulting teams also cover engineering controls for infrastructure, (C)V2X, barriers, and traffic control devices.

Management & operations

In this assessment, we’re looking at the organization and standard operations processes and procedures documentation — specifically related to the development and deployment of AVs. This includes safety management systems, safety measures and metrics, events and reporting, vehicle maintenance and cleaning, and change control.

An extension of the organization and standard operations processes, here we’re focused on the hiring requirements, training methodologies, and management tools specifically related to the development and deployment of AVs. This also covers operator monitoring, AV operation, fleet maintenance, and dispatch management.

This assessment looks at how the organization handles all emergency related incidents involving the vehicle, people, and the environment, as well as the emergency action plan. We’ll cover both internal (distribution and escalation) and external reporting and interactions with emergency services/first responders and state/federal agencies.

Compliance is a fundamental aspect of AV deployment, ranging from regulatory elements on a state and federal level to insurance requirements. This assessment covers vehicle regulations, safety standards, and guidelines including state-specific legislation or executive orders, as well as requirements, security, and data privacy. Our transportation planning consultants can also highlight future compliance requirements through a compliance roadmap.

Monitor & evaluate

Monitoring the operations and gathering feedback from our deployment is crucial for understanding and promptly mitigating safety risks and issues during the AV lifecycle. These areas include ODD expansion, product upgrades, modifications, or software releases as part of the lifecycle, as well as identifying issues through the reporting of AV related metrics at an agreed cadence.

Final deliverable

The final deliverables of the overall AV Deployment Safety Assessment are both tangible and intangible. Following the risk and hazard assessment, recommendations are provided for AV risk assessment and mitigation through a Third Party Independent Assessment Report. Throughout the assessment and mitigation efforts, our city planning and mass transit consulting teams bring the client along every step of the way. This is critical to the process and to establishing or further developing a strong culture of safety within the client organization. A safety culture is vital for the success of an AV deployment, big or small. The intangible deliverable is a sense of trust and confidence in the deployment, knowing that all efforts have been taken and documented to evaluate and mitigate the identified safety risks and hazards.