Linux makes a big bet on cars of the future – deals with Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota and Nissan

20 Sep 2012

It has been said a lot recently that two-thirds the value of a car today is in its electronics. Not to be one to miss out on the IT meets automotives opportunity, the Linux Foundation has forged alliances with major car manufacturers Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan and Toyota to bring open-source technology into the vehicles of the future.

A workgroup has been set up that also includes other tech giants, such as Aisin AW, DENSO Corporation, Feuerlabs, Fujitsu, HARMAN, Intel, NEC, NVIDIA, Reaktor, Renesas, Samsung, Symbio, Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI), and Tieto.  

The Linux Foundation pointed out that a major shift is under way in the automotive industry.

Carmakers are using new technologies to meet consumer expectations for the same connectivity in cars as what is today the norm in homes and offices. From dashboard computing to in-vehicle-infotainment (IVI), automobiles are becoming the latest wireless devices – on wheels.

Internet giant Google is already focused on making self-driving cars a reality, for example, and self-driving cars have been seen swishing around Carson City, Nevada. In December, Google was awarded a US patent to switch cars from human-controlled mode into driverless mode, so cars can self-drive. Google had filed for the patent back on 11 May 2011.

The driverless technology includes radar sensors, artificial intelligence and GPS video cameras to allow the car to navigate through the streets as safely as possible.

Accelerating innovation in the automotive industry

“This workgroup will leverage Tizen to create a Debian or Fedora-like project for the automotive industry,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation.

“Like those community distributions, the Automotive Grade Linux Workgroup will rapidly feed cutting-edge technologies to automakers and their partners who can build Linux-based products for the newest cars.”

The Linux Foundation says that with US$10bn already invested in the Linux kernel, carmakers can take advantage of the technology to accelerate innovation.

The Automotive Grade Linux Workgroup will work with the Tizen project as the reference distribution optimised for a broad set of automotive applications ranging from instrumentation cluster to IVI and more.

“A community distribution for automotive Linux is essential,” said Ken-ichi Murata, project general manager, Toyota Motor Corporation.

“There are a core set of requirements specific to the automotive industry, and collaborative development can help meet those needs faster and more efficiently,” Zemlin said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years