Hyundai has become the latest car company to explore serious open source alternatives for developing its in-car services. Ahead of CES 2019, the South Korean automotive giant today announced that it has joined the Linux Foundation and the nonprofit’s seven-year-old Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) effort as it looks to contribute to — and reap benefit from — software developed by over 140 companies.
The announcement underscores the growing popularity of AGL, which has attracted dozens of car manufacturers and other companies in recent years. Members of AGL, which include Toyota, Ford, Honda, Suzuki, Intel, Nvidia, ARM, and LG, work in tandem to develop open source software for infotainment, telematics, and instrument cluster applications.
In a statement, Dan Cauchy, executive director of Automotive Grade Linux at the Linux Foundation, touted today’s announcement as a “significant milestone.” He added, ” … the rapid growth of AGL proves that automakers are realizing the business value that open source and shared software development can provide.” Hyundai is joining the Linux Foundation as a silver member and AGL at the bronze level, a spokesperson for the Linux Foundation told VentureBeat. (The tier of the membership is decided based on the amount a company donates to the Linux Foundation.)
For Hyundai, open collaboration is crucial as it pursues a “connected car vision,” Paul Choo, VP and head of Infotainment Technology Center at Hyundai, said in a statement. Car companies have traditionally taken three years or longer to develop in-vehicle services, such as infotainment systems.
The bottleneck usually lies in the quality of code their in-house programmers create. According to a case study published by AGL, a connected car uses some 100 million lines of code, which is about 11 times more than the number that went into the F-35 fighter jet. “Software has become more important than ever, but the traditional, proprietary software development model has created widespread fragmentation that is slowing the pace of innovation,” the organization said.
Getting on AGL’s bandwagon would also help Hyundai speed up development of its in-car technologies. Members of AGL get access to AGL Unified Code Base (UCB), which offers 70 percent of the starting point for a production project. It also includes an operating system, middleware, and application framework, according to the Linux Foundation.
The Linux Foundation, which will demo a number of its in-car projects at the trade show starting next week, is coming off a great year. In 2018, it attracted Uber, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Bros., and dozens of other companies, as open source is finally getting the limelight.