New Proposed Laws, Collaborations Pave Way for Driverless Future

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vehicles on the road, fundamental interoperability, machine learning, safety, and security challenges must be solved, and the Linux Foundation believes its open, collaborative platform is the best way to do it.

Dan Cauchy, general manager for automotive at the Linux Foundation, is heading up Automotive Grade Linux, a project to develop a common, Linux-based software stack for the connected car. The goal, Cauchy said, is to create a single, common platform for the entire automotive industry.

“It provides a common framework for software developers,” Cauchy said. “We have a code-first focus, which is different from other collaborative efforts like GENIVI.”

The GENIVI Alliance is, like AGL, a non-profit organization devoted to driving the broad adoption of an open-source, in-vehicle development platform. The key difference between the two efforts, Cauchy said, is GENIVI’s “bring your own platform” approach, where members must be compliant with common specs but can have individual operating systems. Cauchy, however, said having everyone on the same platform enables better security and allows developers to share fixes to bugs.

Cauchy said he used to serve on GENIVI’s board and has total respect for its efforts, but he believes AGL’s approach is the better one. Consumers, he noted, have come to expect a short production cycle and perpetual innovation thanks to smartphones.

“It took a while, but auto manufacturers now realize they’re in the software business,” he said. “During the typical automotive production cycle, three versions of the iPhone will have come out. We’ve got to change that and have one platform, not a contract where you give a spec to a supplier and say, ‘Build this.’ It’s about rapid innovation and getting up to the speed and functionality of a smartphone.”

Executives who are concerned they’ll lose their competitive advantage due to collaboration with AGL are probably too far behind the eight ball already, he added. “Some companies have their own platform and are maybe worried they won’t be able to sell it anymore. But we want to be the end system; the manufacturers still have to add their branding so the system looks and feels like theirs, but underneath it’s a common software platform.”

Cauchy compares the situation to the way Android architecture runs on most non-iPhone smartphones, unbeknownst to the majority of consumers. He said that with AGL, a vehicle would be 80 percent common software and 20 percent manufacturer-customized software.

AGL so far has 40 members, including many suppliers and software companies, as well as eight automakers, including Ford, Mazda, Toyota, Honda, and Jaguar Land Rover . Just this week, Movimento, Oracle, Qualcomm Innovation Center, Texas Instruments, UIEvolution, and VeriSilicon announced they officially joined the AGL project.

Cauchy said a preliminary version of the AGL Unified Code Base was released in January, with the next version due in July and a “quite complete” third version expected to be unveiled at next year’s CES in Las Vegas. The platform includes full navigation, HVAC controls, a media player, and a security framework.

As AGL works to get more automakers and tech companies on board, it holds all-member meetings twice a year. It recently held one in Japan, and Cauchy said 155 people from 39 companies attended, which he saw as a good sign.

“There might be holdouts, but once they see the platform’s success, I think they’ll come around,” he said.

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