Is Open-source the Future of Mobility

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In the automotive industry or much or of the hardware space, we don’t see much open-source. Everything is guarded by patents and corporations hold their Intellectual Property very close. But what if that wasn’t the case and most of the base vehicle components were open source?

According to Wikipedia Open-source software (OSS) is a type of computer software in which source code is released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the right to use, study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose.

Take a platform like Linux, it changes nine times an hour, 10 000 lines of code are added everyday, with 5 000 lines being changed and 8 000 lines are removed. This the quickest and biggest software development process in computing.

One of the biggest open-source software today is Google’s Android platform, this is the most used smartphone operating system, which powers over 2.5 billion active devices. Others include platforms such WordPress which we use at Flex Urban and Blender used at Mazibuko Motors

Joining forces at such a high scale means the possibilities much greater than if an individual is working on something or a corporation tackling a problem on its own.

Which makes me wonder if open-source could be the answer to smart self-driving electric vehicles of the future? With open-source software and platforms, contributions from all over the world could make the technology grow quicker, collaborations can make machine learning and AI pick up speed much faster.

Currently, the automotive industry is run by OEM’s and suppliers who develop tech that they own Intellectual Property to and then license it out to others in the industry but even then, there are limits to what the licensee can access and improve on the software and hardware. But Comma.ai, a company with open-source software built to improve upon the existing driver assistance in most new cars on the road today is changing all that.

Through its open-source approach, the company founded in 2015 has been able to get over 30 million driven miles from other drivers which help its software at learning and become better at self-driving.

And the biggest one is Hon Hai Precision Industry which trades as Foxconn, announced one of the biggest news in automotive history. The company has announced that it has developed an open-source battery-electric vehicle platform.

This open platform reduces barriers to entry to the EV market and by offering an open software and hardware platform this means a greater number of collaborations will be working on improving electric vehicles and the software that runs them. This then means that we could see a much quicker adoption of EV’s and technology will greatly improve at a much quicker pace.

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