The Open-Source Car

Toyota is joining the Linux Foundation.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Besides a V6 as your engine, your car is very likely to soon be running Linux under the hood. The Linux Foundation will be announcing today that Toyota is joining the Foundation.

Some of you may be wondering, "What the heck is a car company doing joining the Linux Foundation?" The answer is easy. As the Foundation puts it, "A major shift is underway in the automotive industry. Car-makers are using new technologies to deliver on consumer expectations for the same connectivity in their cars as they've come to expect in their homes and offices. From dashboard computing to In-Vehicle-Infotainment (IVI), automobiles are becoming the latest wireless devices - on wheels."

And, what's one of the most popular systems for dashboard computing, heads-up driving displays and IVI? It's Linux, of course. In a statement, Kenichi Murata, Toyota's General Manager for Electronics Development said, "Linux gives us the flexibility and technology maturity we require to evolve our In-Vehicle-Infotainment and communications systems to address the expectations of our customers. The Linux Foundation provides us with a neutral forum in which we can collaborate with the world's leading technology companies on open innovation that accelerates that evolution."

It's not just Toyota though that's using Linux and open-source software in its cars. GENIVI, the non-profit industry alliance committed to driving the broad adoption of an IVI reference platform, has also committed to Linux. To be exact, GENIVI's members, which include BMW, GM, Peugeot Citroen, and Renault, are backing Intel's embedded MeeGo Linux.

Other car companies, like Ford with its Sync program have played with open source. In Ford's case though what the Detroit car company has actually done is to just open up some of their application programming interfaces (API)s.

That said, as Toyota is showing us today, Linux and open source is continuing to grow in importance as the framework for intelligent devices from digital video recorders (DVRs) to smartphone to, yes, the car your driveway. Happy driving!

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