Vehicles are increasingly software-defined networks on wheels. In response, Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) has exploded in popularity. Dan Cauchy, a 2018 Top Embedded Innovator and Executive Director of AGL offers insight on trends in open source software and the automotive market.
Today, Linux is everywhere, including cars. What can you tell us about your vision for AGL in vehicles?
CAUCHY: The question implies that AGL is simply an operating system, when in fact it is much more than that. It is a complete software stack combined with a thriving ecosystem.
AGL is built from the ground up including the Linux kernel and hardware board support package, middleware, application framework and APIs, software-development kit (SDK), and reference applications. It is a complete system but offers the flexibility of being fully customizable.
AGL was launched to build a single software platform to eliminate the fragmentation that has plagued the automotive industry. Our goal is to drive rapid innovation by developing an open, shared platform that can serve as the de facto industry standard. We are enabling software reuse and reducing fragmentation across the industry through the growth of an AGL ecosystem and supply chain that all use the same code base. Developers and suppliers can build a product once and have it work for multiple OEMs instead of having to build different versions for each manufacturer and vehicle model.
Our primary focus to date has been on infotainment, since that has been the biggest pain point for automotive manufacturers. But this summer we are planning to release solutions for telematics, heads-up display (HUD), and instrument cluster, and our roadmap includes functional safety, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and autonomous driving. Once AGL achieves the applicable functional safety certifications, there are really no limits to the type of applications where it can be used in the vehicle.
How is AGL upping the ante for security in connected vehicles?
CAUCHY: The AGL platform was designed with security in mind and includes baseline security features like application framework security with role-based access control. This can be used to isolate applications from critical components and can also limit the devices that applications are allowed to access in the vehicle.
We have hundreds of engineers from over a hundred different companies working on the same code base, and when a security issue or bug is found, the fix is contributed back to AGL and made available to everyone. This results in a massive economy of scale that simply cannot be reproduced inside a single company. That is the power of open source. And this inherently results in higher quality and more secure code.
We believe that collaboration and information sharing will make the entire industry more secure. Automakers can learn from each other’s experiences on a much wider scale to quickly mitigate risks and threats and rapidly patch vulnerabilities.
From a STEM perspective, what can industry and the open source community provide to ensure a consistent pipeline of young engineers?
CAUCHY: I grew up in Ontario, Canada and I started coding professionally at the age of 15. I worked for my local school system under a summer student program and created various software to automate school system operations. This experience is what propelled my career into the technology field. It’s my opinion that the education system should encourage more computer science work at a younger age, either via curriculums or summer student programs or more programs like Google Summer of Code.
Open source is a great way to get young people and students involved in technology. Most open source projects are very welcoming of contributions from developers at large. In fact, for many projects, the primary contributions come from individual contributors not associated with employment or any given company. This is common in the open source world.
At AGL, we are working closely with the automotive manufacturers to create a thriving ecosystem of young developers.
Automotive Grade Linux (AGL)
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