Powering Automotive Innovation With Open Source

Remember the last time that you were rocking to the beats in your car? Of course, you do. And you’re already thinking – Oh yes! My car has killer HD Speakers. They are mind-blowing. Before you go on and on about your hardware specs, I want to make a point. Your car’s speaker hardware is great, but do you know that many lines of multimedia software code are also running in the background, and are actually driving the quality?

Well, it’s likely that you do.

The Automotive Niche Is Not Just About Hardware Anymore

It’s taking the Software-first approach. According to one study1, 90 percent of the innovation we’re seeing within the auto industry is driven by advancements in software and gadgetry. The premium-class cars host today more than 100 million lines of software code 2. That’s a lot of software for a car. But it’s not surprising.

Cars were once differentiated by engineering, materials and design aspects like leather seats, and horsepower, but today the competition is shifting towards software innovation and advanced UI interface. This trend is visible across the entire automotive domain.

The Users Are Asking for More

Users want to do a lot more than just drive from point A to B. They are increasingly demanding more powerful navigation, better entertainment and communications systems, and seamless integrations with all their mobile (and soon wearable) devices.

Everyone’s in a rush and wants to make the most of commute. Users want to be productive and cozy even while on the go. They don’t want their cars to be an ecosystem that’s disjoint from the rest of their world. Instead, they want to experience it as the most advanced wireless technology – on wheels. These expectations mean that a lot of software will be needed in the future to support automotive technology as it continues to advance.

The Open Source Way to Automotive Co-opetition

“Users are demanding personalization at a rate that is far in excess of what car OEMs can handle”3 says John Ellis, former Ford global technologist. To optimize resources and crank out quick solutions, the automotive players have turned to open source.  In fact, it’s more than that, key players are recognizing and leaning towards open source as a movement.

The automotive industry has formed the GENIVI ® Alliance at 2009. It is now 170 members strong, including the industry’s most innovative automotive manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers, as well as chip manufacturers like Intel, Qualcomm and Nvidia and plenty of aftermarket manufacturers. GENIVI’s goal is to drive open source adoption and standards for IVI systems.

Automotive companies such as Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW, GM, Peugeot Citroën, Renault, and Toyota already understand that working together with open source makes perfect business sense. They understand that by opening up to collaboration, one can enable much greater innovation to quickly solve complex industry problems.

A year ago Tesla released over 250 patents mostly covering the electric car battery and related technology in the spirit of open source4. At the same time, Ford released the proprietary source code for its Sync AppLink platform to GENIVI.

In partnering with Genivi, Ford not only enabled software developers to directly interface with their vehicle and create apps to enhance the driving experience. But also opens a new front for its Sync platform to become an automotive app standard “Our long term vision is that AppLink apps will not only work in Ford vehicles, but in all vehicles. This cannot be done with a closed-door approach. By opening up AppLink core protocols we set the stage for a much wider collaboration across automotive industry”5. Last week, Ford announced that it will also release its electric vehicle patent to increase the expansion of those types of cars presented to its rivals as an open source. The code was released under the BSD3 license, which enables you almost unlimited freedom with the software as long as you include the copyright and license notice in it.

Getting Open Source to Work for You

Due to the growing use of open source, the automotive industry is also in the process of learning how to work with it and manage its usage. Given the number of elements to consider and the complexity of the supply chain, it’s easy to lose the handle on things.

If you want to fully leverage the open source capabilities, you need to have a tight control over your open source usage. Current scan based solutions provide post development reports, which are great for audits, but may lead to wasting a lot of time and money. Agile solutions like WhiteSource make it easy to manage your open source components as part of your agile software development lifecycle and as part of standard continuous integration process.

WhiteSource Assists to Embrace Open Source in the Automotive Industry

WhiteSource is a cloud-based SaaS open source management solution that automatically identifies and continuously manages all your open source components. You can install WhiteSource within minutes and immediately get a full inventory as well as licensing and security analysis of your software.

WhiteSource integrates with your basic building tools and becomes part of your continuous integration environment, so all the tracking and monitoring are completely and continuously automated.

Once deployed, WhiteSource provides full inventory of all open source components and their dependencies. This means that you can issue a current and accurate report of your open source components in one click. It also enables you to set a license and security policy and enforce it automatically during development. You will get alerts whenever a violation or security vulnerability is discovered.

For more details just request a free trial.