by OMA | Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Driving Collaboration Among Suppliers

By Joel Hoffmann | November 7, 2015, Open MCB Community — I’ll never forget my very first new car buying experience 35 years ago. The salesperson asked me if I wanted power windows and locks or the crank type. What a strange question I thought, of course I want the power option! He did not care, but was simply sizing me up as to whether I was looking for a premium car or a basic one; apparently the cut line was the windows and locks. Now you can hardly find a car with crank windows – power became standard years ago for most cars, as if it’s a human right.

Autonomous car

A few early adopters will pay extra for new features, but many consider them a “right” after a few short years. That’s a problem for automakers since they are now forced to spend development money without raising the price. Enter the age of collaboration. Forward-looking automakers and suppliers have learned to work together on the most expensive part to development for safety and security — millions of lines of software. Using open source methods to determine cross industry specifications and reference code samples, it is possible for everyone to have the same starting point.

The newest premium feature is about safety and security that normal folks are aware of like never before. You can’t ignore a recall notice that tells you a new airbag is needed or that your radio can control your car through the internet if you don’t visit your dealer for a security upgrade.

GENIVI Alliance, Linux Foundation Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) and strong standards player Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) are offering to support the collaboration and get the basics of new features like self-driving into the market faster so we don’t have to wait 35 years for them to be safer and more secure — as a standard feature.

An excellent example of the increased pace of innovation is Jaguar Land Rover’sOpen Software Technology Centre (OSTC) in Portland, Oregon. As a divergence from typical Silicon Valley automaker research centers, the OSTC employs nearly 100 developers working in the open on projects like Remote Vehicle Interaction (RVI), a framework for communications capabilities that is offered to any automaker. RVI is designed to implement the base set of code and specs permitting secure access from remote devices like your phone to the interna l networks of the car. Recently GENIVI Alliance formed an expert group to attract more automakers and standards groups such as OMA to engage and align.

This critical interface is where security is most needed and the development is being done completely in the open to make sure all suppliers and carmakers can make the software more robust. Aligned with industry standards, RVI and related components will enable fast and convenient software upgrades to your car similar to how mobile phones are updated — over the air (OTA) and without a visit to the dealer.

fordWhat about IP portfolios and patents? Are they in the way preventing open innovation? Perhaps, depending on the use of them. Tesla opened its patent portfolio to the industry, while Ford recently secured a new patent effectively for “mobile lounges or meeting rooms” based on turning the front seats to face rearward and let the car fully drive itself. Not a completely new concept, the question is who drew the picture first.

On the connected car front, there is a shortage of wireless spectrum so the new usages for safety such as connected autonomous driving are learning how to share the airwaves using unlicensed frequencies. Now that’s a new concept for the auto business — sharing the open road collaboratively into the future.