Open source has revolutionized the automotive industry

Open source has revolutionized the automotive industry

Open source, cars, the challenges and opportunities 

Open source software is as a driving force all around us. From healthcare to finance and banking, to scientific research, to aerospace. Open source is just the most reliable, open and safest way to go, take for example the flight-certified systems at level D: Aerospace companies like Boeing are now poised to use Linux more broadly and at higher levels of assurance. 

One of the largest open source industries after aerospace is of course the automotive industry. Open source has always been igniting innovation in the automotive sector, in areas like artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous driving, and connected vehicles.  

In this blog we will cover some parts of this subject and have a short look at the automotive industry in combination with security and two open source projects. 

Automobile manufacturers from Europe like Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes are well known to use open source in both their own IT infrastructure as their cars. But also, your Tesla is driven by open source software. Tesla’s car software is based on Linux, GNU toolchain, buildroot, and other open source projects, delivering the security, capability, and performance demanded by our user experience. It’s not only performing well and super reliable, but it also looks amazing! 

The integration of open source software has paved the way for growth and technical advancement in the automotive industry. However, alongside the undeniable benefits, open source also brought potential risks. But how did the combination of open source and cars reshape the automotive landscape while addressing the challenges that come with it?  


Open source has revolutionized the way we approach automotive technology. From AI-powered features to self-driving capabilities, open source software fuels breakthroughs that reshape the industry. Despite these advancements, security vulnerabilities remain an area of concern. More so, the urgency for secure vehicles has escalated as self-driving cars become a reality.  

But security risks are not only applicable for self-driving cars. They also come into play with manually driven cars. Some security risks include hacking. By hacking cars, you could disable the air bags, the anti-lock brakes, or the door locks, and even steal the car.  

For example, in 2015, two security experts showed off a hack where they were able to switch off a Jeep driving at 70mph down on an American highway. It marked the dawn of the hackable car, although the seeds of this were sown decades earlier when the first connected components were unveiled in the 1980’s and were not built to be resilient to hackers.   

Gotten curious? Through the following link you can see a video of how hackers would go about hacking a car, while some is actually driving the car:   

In addition to the security threats mentioned above developers compete to turn smartphones into vehicular remote controls, allowing drivers to locate, lock, and unlock their rides with a screen tap. Some apps can even summon cars. But phones can be hacked. And when they are, those car-connected features can fall into the hands of hackers, too. 

So, should you be scared? Is there a hacker out there who knows your vehicle’s IP address, possesses masters-level computing skills, and has months to devote to reverse-engineering a way to take over your car? If you’re not some kind of international spy, the answer is probably “no”. Also Jeep responded to further improve their vehicles security. 

The aspects mentioned above don’t cover all the security risks by far but is mainly to give a few examples. I am curious though, do other security threats come to your mind? Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section about it and maybe we could engage in an interesting discussion as cars are a passion of mine.  

Automotive Grade Linux 

Recognizing this need for cross-industry collaboration to address advancement and mitigate security risks, projects like Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) have emerged. Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) is a project of the Linux Foundation dedicated to creating open source software solutions for the automobile industry. While initially targeting infotainment (information and entertainment), AGL aims to cover all aspects of vehicle software, from infotainment to autonomous driving. AGL also leverages the ten billion dollar investment in the Linux kernel for this. The work of the AGL project enables software developers to keep pace with the demands of customers and manufacturers in this rapidly changing space, while encouraging collaboration. 

The AGL project has been creating a standardized open operating system and application framework that is not under the control of one company. It is developed collaboratively among many companies. This decreases time to market, and creates a functionality similar to a smart phone which leads to shorter development cycles.

Automotive Edge Computing Consortium 

In addition, the Automotive Edge Computing Consortium (AECC), formed by companies like Toyota, Intel, and Denso, aims to develop the infrastructure necessary to support data-intensive connected vehicle services. Their roadmap includes addressing resource efficiency through edge computing, distributed cloud, and network virtualization. 

AECC’s focus lies in defining network and computing requirements for connected vehicle services. This includes tasks such as creating HD maps, intelligent driving features, remote diagnostics, and V2Cloud assist.  

To achieve its goals, AECC is pinpointing relevant standardization and open source software development communities. It also addresses resource efficiency challenges involving communication bandwidth, computation power, and storage capacity. Solutions like edge computing, distributed cloud, and network virtualization are under consideration. 


The fusion of open source with the automotive industry has ignited innovation across AI, autonomous driving, and beyond. Yet, alongside its promise, challenges persist that demand strategic collaboration and solutions. 

Security stands paramount, as witnessed through incidents like the 2015 Jeep hack and potential smartphone vulnerabilities. The complexities of hardware and software integration pose hurdles, requiring shifts in business models and skill sets. Amidst this, initiatives like Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) are creating standardized systems, and the Automotive Edge Computing Consortium (AECC) is paving the way for data-rich connected vehicle services. 

In navigating these challenges, industry-wide collaboration, cybersecurity measures, and focused initiatives are essential. As the automotive landscape transforms, the synthesis of open source principles and strategic action will shape a safer, more innovative future. 

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