Safer automotive software through Open Source?

July 06, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Automotive Grade Linux Logo
Linux is about to conquer one of the last blank spots in the world of open source software: The car. EE Times Europe talked with Dan Cauchy, General Manager of Automotive at the Linux Foundation, about intentions and status of Automotive Grade Linux.

So far, automotive software is dominated by highly proprietary, functionally limited software with virtually no software reuse. All this is accompanied by a patchwork of selective and isolated operating systems – a nightmare in terms of productivity and software economy. Yes, there are currently efforts to establish the open source operating Linux in the car, mostly in the infotainment space. But none seems to have as much momentum as Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) .


Launched as a workgroup within the Linux Foundation, AGL is an initiative of mostly Japanese proponents such as automotive OEMs Mazda, Toyota and Honda as well as semiconductor manufacturer Renesas, tier one supplier Denso and consumer electronics giant Panasonic. Since its inception in 2012, a large number of technology and automotive companies have joined in; today, the members list includes Qualcomm, Pioneer, Mitsubishi Electric, Nissan and Ford as well as software vendor Wind River, supplier Continental and chipmakers NXP, nVidia, Texas Instruments and Intel – to name just a few. Notably absent: The European auto industry, including the Germans who otherwise see themselves as the avant-garde.

The AGL community is determined to bring the automotive software world up to the same level of productivity as the large rest of the IT world, said Cauchy in an interview with EE Times Europe. “The automotive industry has fallen behind the smartphone industry in terms of software,” he said. “Many customers and suppliers ask themselves why they should pay so much money for software, in the first place in the infotainment segment. There is very little software reuse, which makes all developments extremely expensive.”

Traditionally, tier one suppliers provide some kind of black box with some software inside to their customers, the auto makers. These “black boxes” remain in service until many years later the successor will hit the market. At that time, the hardware basis has changed several times, making it necessary to develop a completely new