UPDATED 12:30 EDT / JUNE 12 2024


Rust Foundation and industry leaders launch Safety-Critical Rust Consortium

The Rust Foundation, which supports the development of the popular open-source Rust programming language, joined with several prominent organizations today to launch of the Safety-Critical Rust Consortium, a new organization that aims to promote the responsible use of Rust in safety-critical software.

Along with the Rust Foundation, the Rust Consortium’s founding members include Ada Core Technologies Inc., Arm Ltd., Ferrous Systems GmbH, HighTec EDV-Systeme GmbH, Lynx Software Technologies Inc., OxidOS Systems Ltd., TECHFUND Capital Europe Sp. z o.o., TrustInSoft SA, Veecle GmbH and Woven by Toyota Inc.

At the core of the new consortium is a goal to support the responsible use of Rust in safety-critical software — systems whose failure can impact human life or cause severe environmental harm. Though the consortium is newly launched and various aspects, such as a public charter, are still to be determined, it’s aiming to develop guidelines, linters, libraries, static analysis tools, formal methods and language subsets that meet industrial and legal requirements.

The group may also assist in Rust Foundation-funded implementation work, such as with grants to existing academic teams or for free and open-source software development.

The consortium aims to address the gap in safety-critical resources within the Rust ecosystem, providing developers with the necessary tools and best practices to adopt Rust in safety-critical environments. At its launch, the consortium is seeking wide participation from various stakeholders, including industry representatives, standards groups, tooling providers and the Rust community.

“Rust has already established itself as a safe and secure programming language with developers in open source, industry and governments,” said Joel Marcey, director of technology at the Rust Foundation. “Now is the time to use that momentum toward bringing Rust as a mainstream language in safety-critical areas, providing processes and specifications that allow Rust to be certified in this space.”

Industries that are said to be particularly concerned with functional safety include transportation — automotive, aviation and space — as well as energy and life sciences. Due to their potential impacts, covered industries are often regulated, have liability considerations and are guided by standards such as IEC 61508, ISO 26262, IEC 62304 and DO-178C.

Industries covered by the new consortium tend to learn based on real-world feedback and improving processes. The Rust Foundation believes that the ecosystem of tools and tool vendors has evolved, and best practices have been learned to create a safety culture around tooling.

In such industries, the risk of accidents is real and Rust developers can, if something goes wrong, be faced with an inquiry or worse if an accident were to occur. The risk creates a disincentive to widespread Rust adoption, leaving developers unable to reap all its advantages while potentially facing financial, reputational and moral costs. “Traditionally, achieving the highest levels of safety has been a complex and lengthy endeavor, requiring the use of specialized tools and processes beyond the programming language,” said JF Bastien, distinguished engineer at Woven by Toyota.

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