Open source software is the great tectonic force of the modern workplace, shifting the ground beneath our feet with a thousand minor and major innovations every year. Workers in nearly every field, from medicine to metallurgy, benefit from open source software. It is efficient and cost-effective on a user level since there is no proprietary software to buy and no vendor-specific cost. That is why so many sales platforms now run on open source software. It saves money, enhances flexibility, and creates a more workable and efficient system. But can the wild world of open source translate to larger, more safety-intensive worlds such as automotive?
Automotive, traditionally not seen as software dependent, has never been an open source industry. Trade secrets are guarded, and there is not much shared infrastructure between cars. Even as vehicles have become defined by software, this mentality persists. But a growing recognition that the challenges posed by V2X communication and self-driving cars can only be met with a shared platform is changing the old-school mentality. The promises of this technology have spurred the automotive industry’s move toward creative multidisciplinary innovation, speeding up the adoption of revolutionary new technology.
The Benefits of Open Source
The heart of a shared platform is interoperability. With open source, an OEM would no longer be limited to just one vendor for, say, infotainment apps. They could use any app system they wanted, increasing vendor competition and allowing OEMs to receive better services at better prices. This is great for suppliers as well because it opens the market into a meritocracy. Open source does not mean the end of competition – it means the competition is being raised beyond the level of basic functionality, to a performance and service level. It is a way for everyone in the industry to use a common language that they can build from. Think of it like one theme from which a thousand different symphonies are composed.
Who would participate in this project? For an open source platform to be successful, there must be participation from OEMs, Tier-1 suppliers, software and semiconductor vendors, and third-party innovators with the technology that underpins change. The modern car is a comprehensive and holistic ecosystem, and any change needs to be developed just as comprehensively. It is only by working together that the automotive industry can ensure compatibility across all systems.
But what, ultimately, can open source software do? We will likely see initial developments in In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI). Open source can improve speed, functionality, and the overall user experience, as well as better integrate the IVI system into the mechanics of the car. IVI is one of the easiest areas to update and provides instant aftermarket revenue possibilities. Improving the instrument clusters in a secure way is also the best way to prove that open source does not mean a system that is open to hackers or other criminals.
After that, we can expect to see more open source in more mission-critical components, including V2X communications and ADAS. A full-fledged collaborative system will also include open source for software updating systems and big data collection. After all, a shared pool of information, in the model of the airline industry, will benefit everyone. Understanding all the dynamics that make up the modern (and future) driving experience is key to the autonomous enterprise.
Open source aims to prevent lack of communication. It allows for fundamentals to be shared and worked on in a collaborative manner. It is not a great leveler; it just ensures that all the best minds are working together on the key problems of a promising field.
What is Needed to Achieve Open Source Success
So what do we need to make sure this can happen? There are a few technological and cultural hurdles to overcome. To change a traditionally closed and highly competitive industry, there needs to be:
- An operating system stack that meets the shared requirements of all parties in the automotive industry.
- Embedded open source distribution that enables rapid prototyping.
- An open environment that rewards collaboration and cooperation.
- The willingness to work on an open source project to find genuine solutions.
The last two points require cultural shifts; the first two require technological expertise. The ability to bring about all four is where Linux, the original widespread open source platform, comes in. Linux has changed the way software is written and shared, creating a lived truth out of the original promise of the Internet’s lack of borders. The Linux Foundation has announced an Automotive Grade Linux platform, bringing in OEMs, suppliers, and more. They believe that collaboration “results in faster time to market by jump-starting product teams with reference applications running on multiple hardware platforms.”
At Movimento, we are proud to be part of this future, and this platform, and we believe it can work. We know that it is only through collaboration that we can realize the dream of comprehensive software updating, better features for every consumer, a smarter use of big data, and eventually, safe and secure autonomous driving. The future of the open road begins with open source.
As the auto industry is changed by technological and economic currents, OEMs and Tier-1 manufacturers will need to partner with technological specialists to thrive in the era of the software defined car. Movimento’s expertise is rooted in our background as an automotive company. This has allowed us to create the technological platform that underpins the future of the software driven and self-driven car. Connect with us today to learn more about how we can work together.