Eclipse Foundation launches open source collaboration around software-defined vehicles


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One of the world’s largest open source software (OSS) foundations, the Eclipse Foundation, this week announced an invitation to leaders in the technology sector to join in the commencement of a new working group initiative specifically focused on developing a new grade of open source software-defined vehicles.

Alongside the Eclipse Foundation are several top industry players that are joining the foundation’s open source collaborative effort including Microsoft, Red Hat, Bosch, and others.

“With digital technologies unlocking the future of accessible, sustainable, and safe transportation experiences, mobility services providers are increasingly looking to differentiate through software innovation,” said Ulrich Homann, corporate vice president and distinguished architect at Microsoft. “By standardizing the development, deployment, and management of software-defined vehicles through collaboration in the open-source space, businesses can bring tailored mobility solutions to their customers faster and can focus on innovations.”

The Eclipse Foundation’s initiative aims to provide “individuals and organizations with a mature, scalable, and business-friendly environment for open source software collaboration and innovation,” according to the foundation’s press release.

Benefits for mobility

The new working group will focus entirely on building next-generation vehicles based on open source. By open-sourcing this project, the foundation is hoping to pull solutions and innovation from the best and brightest enterprises and individuals across the globe — and doing so with an eye toward creating a strong foundation for software-defined vehicles and future mobility.

“The software-defined vehicle will play a key role in the future of mobility,” Christoph Hartung, president and chairman of embedded systems maker ETAS, said in a press release. “The explosive increase in complexity can only be mastered by working closely together as we do in this initiative.”

The foundation is focused on fostering an environment from which to pave the way for software-defined vehicles, but it doesn’t stop there. Eclipse is also looking at how both its new working group and the innovation of software-defined vehicles can be used to create robust accessibility options for people with various disabilities and physical needs.

“The transfer of personalized functionality across vehicles and brands will be eased — assume a rental car,” Sven Kappel, vice president and head of project for Bosch, told VentureBeat. “So, in the given hardware restraints, the needs of [an] impaired car user could be far faster retrieved and be met by a large developer base with lower implementation cost than classical vehicle architecture and software developing paradigms.”

A software-defined future

Software-defined vehicles have captured the attention of industry leaders, academics, and the public alike. Next-gen vehicle developers are increasingly looking to provide advanced mobility options to serve the global community, just as smart city technologies and initiatives are similarly on the rise.

The benefits from this open-sourced working group can extend beyond vehicles into other industries as well, including cloud computing and manufacturing. A similar open source-focused working initiative in another industry sector could create benefits ranging from collaborative interdisciplinary solutions to ensuring thoughtful inclusion of anticipated consumer needs early on.

As the automotive industry, like other sectors, continually pivots toward a software-defined future, interdisciplinary collaboration with open source technology will further enable innovation. Manufacturers and suppliers will be better equipped to leverage standards that make innovations available to more people — for the software-defined vehicle space, this means being able to bring customizable features to drivers and passengers at an accelerated rate, Homann explained to VentureBeat via email.

“A global open source community can leverage a wide variety of voices, which can lead to greater participation, such as contributing tools and development principles that can enhance diversity and inclusion,” Homann said.

By building and utilizing a strong, open foundation, vehicle manufacturers worldwide will be able to zero in on key differentiators for customers, like mobility services and end-user experience improvements, at the same time that they are saving both time and cost on the non-differentiating elements, such as operating systems, middleware, and communication protocols, Eclipse’s press release claims.

“Although we have extensive roots with the automotive community, a project of this scope and scale has never been attempted before,” said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. “This initiative enables participants to get in at the ‘ground level’ and ensure they each have an equal voice in this project.”

The future of software-defined vehicles

The Eclipse Foundation — which has reportedly fostered more than 400 open source projects to date — is eyeing the future as it attempts an open source project unmatched to any of its previous 400. By creating an environment that it anticipates will become “an open ecosystem for deploying, configuring, and monitoring vehicle software in a secure and safe way,” and will assist with achieving a significant transformation for the industry at a large scale.

“The end goal of this project is a completely new type of automobile defined in free, open-to-anyone software that can be downloaded into an off-the-shelf chassis. Adding new features to your call will simply require a software update. An enormous first step in a new era of vehicle development,” a press release from Eclipse stated.

A transportation and logistics report released in August by the market data firm Statista projects that electronic systems will account for nearly 50% of the total price of a new car by 2030. Additionally, the report claims that even before then, by 2025 about 33% of new cars sold will be operated by an electric battery. In fact, the report predicts that within the next decade, the rise of mobility services and autonomous vehicles will launch a revolution throughout the entire auto sector.

In addition, another recent report, titled “Software-defined vehicle Research Report 2021: Architecture Trends and Industry Panorama,” points out that in order to keep up with the Joneses of the automotive industry, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) must “open up vehicle programming to all enterprises by simplifying the development of vehicle software and increasing the frequency of updates, so as to master the ecological resources of developers.” This further underscores the Eclipse Foundation’s ultimate goal of inviting industry leaders to collaboratively build next-generation vehicles based on open source.

According to the press release, Eclipse plans to create a space fueled by “transparency, vendor-neutrality, and a shared voice” in order to ensure all participants in the open source-driven project have the opportunity to shape the future of the working group — and the very future of vehicle development itself.


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