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Toyota Adopts Open Source Software For In-Car Systems

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Spread of open-source software continues into vehicles with Toyota opting for Linux-based platform

Car giant Toyota has made a significant decision to back the use of open source software for its in-car systems.

The Japanese car maker said that for its revamped Camry sedan in the United States, the infotainment system would run on a Linux-based, open-source technology platform.

In recent years car makers have tended to rely on more traditional infotainment platforms such as BlackBerry’s QNX, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto from Google, as a way to incorporate added user functionality into their vehicles.

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But Toyota’s decision to utilise an open-source infotainment platform in a major car model could signal the start of an open source challenge to the established autotech players.

Toyota will according to Reuters, use the Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) system in its Camry sedan. And it plans to expand the platform to other Toyota and Lexus vehicles in North America and other parts of the world.

It is apparently opting for AGL as it wants the flexibility to customise its software and also keep user data that could otherwise be captured by Apple or Google.

AGL is a collaborative open source project that ten global carmakers have signed up to develop for the connected car. The idea is that carmakers can utilise the basic AGL and then customise it for their particular models.

This means that carmakers avoid having to code systems from the ground up for each model, thereby saving development time and costs. The typical modern car for example needs over 100 million lines of computer code to run its systems.

Other major carmakers backing the AGL project are Mazda, Suzuki, Daimler, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Nissan, Ford, Honda, and Mitsubishi.

It seems that AGL will not only allow for traditional systems, such as playing the radio or connecting a smartphone to the car, but can also be used to support emerging technologies such as self-driving functions and connected car services.

Connected Cars

“It’s very necessary to reduce the overhead of duplication work among our suppliers so they can spend more time to create new things rather than maintaining fragmentary codes,” Kenichi Murata, group manager of Connected Strategy and Planning at Toyota was quoted as saying.

Toyota is not the only car-maker looking to the future of in-car tech.

Last year Microsoft signed a global deal with the Renault-Nissan Alliance to develop the connected driving experience in the years ahead.

LG and VW have also revealed a joint effort to create a next-generation platform that better connects cars and homes for owners.

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