Transformers: More Than Meets the Automotive Eye

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Cadillac, Ford, Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota. These carmakers are transforming their industry through software. Cars are no longer just about metal. A new car already has 5 to 15 million lines of software code that are reliant on and integrated with thousands of mechanical and electrical components. If you’re in the car business today you’re also a software maker.

 

I wrote in a Wired op-ed piece about the new requirements that consumer technology is putting on automakers. These companies are competing by differentiating the user experience in their cars and that means they need to know how to build software to support that user experience and they need to know how to build it fast.

 

The only way to acquire that knowledge, meet the pace of innovation expected from consumers, and support their cars for 10+ years per vehicle, is through collaborative development and open source software. And, we’re seeing it happen before our eyes.

 

Ford's Winning SubmissionThis week at the Automotive Linux Summit in Japan winners were revealed for the first-ever Automotive Grade Linux User Experience Contest. Among them is one of the world’s largest automakers, Ford, who integrated its open source Smart Device link solution into the AGL demonstrator to win in the category for Best Feature. The result is a complete software stack, consisting of the operating system, user interface and device drivers.

 

Reaktor won in the category for Best Visual Appearance and Tata Elxi for Best User Experience. You can read more about the submissions on the Automotive Grade Linux website.

 

While quick, cute solutions for user experiences hit the market (like iBeetle), the reality is that software that runs in cars has to be supported for the life of a car. Companies come and go. Investments in automotive by software providers will come and go. The Linux and open source communities, due to the collaborative development, will be supporting Linux in cars for decades to come. Furthermore, car makers don't have to reinvent the wheel with Linux. They pick up $10B worth of R&D and a global community of thousands of developers who can collaboratively build the software with them and support it.

 

Transformation via collaboration.

 

Let me again congratulate the winners of the Automotive Grade Linux User Experience Contest. The outstanding entries demonstrate new concepts that will help define the future of cars. There is no question that Linux and collaborative development are changing the game for the car industry. And, this is just the beginning.

 

See what is coming next for Linux, open source and cars at the next Automotive Linux Summit.