Consumers want their in-car technology to provide the same features, functionality and ease-of-use as their mobile devices. But when it comes to rolling out new technology, the automotive industry seems to be stuck in neutral, while the tech industry zooms past.

Blockchain technology powers distributed ledgers and smart contracts, allowing the creation of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Yet the most exciting applications for blockchain go beyond cryptocurrency. They are poised to transform entire industries–ranging from security, healthcare, financial services, and supply chain–through a shared platform that decentralizes control over data without compromising the security of sensitive information to help drive greater transparency and trust.

Blockchain technology is tantalizing to any network of organizations that want to record transactions between themselves, but either cannot depend on an intermediary that all parties trust, or that want to make that intermediary more efficient and substitutable.

The Challenge

It’s not hard to see where the problem lies. The development of an in-vehicle infotainment system has been estimated to take between 36 and 39 months. During that time period, the world sees three to four versions of the iPhone or Android smartphones.

Today’s connected car uses approximately 100 million lines of code, which is about 11 times more than the F-35 fighter and 14 times more than the avionics software in a Boeing 787. When you compare this to the Android operating system, which runs between 12 and 15 million lines of code, and the average iPhone app, which uses less than 50,000 lines of code, it’s no wonder that the product development cycle for automotive companies is so much longer than for technology companies.

Software has become more important than ever, but the traditional, proprietary software development model has created widespread fragmentation that is slowing the pace of innovation.

The Approach

The Linux Foundation launched Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) in 2012 with the goal of building a common software platform that could eliminate the fragmentation that has plagued the automotive industry.

What Android did for the mobile phone industry, AGL is doing for the automotive industry – creating a single ubiquitous platform with a thriving community of automakers, suppliers, application providers and open source developers that all use the same code base.

The Results

In 2016, AGL released the Unified Code Base (UCB), an open source infotainment platform that includes an operating system, middleware and application framework. The community is currently working on the sixth release of the platform.

The UCB provides 70 to 80% of the starting point for a production infotainment system. This allows automakers and suppliers to focus their resources on innovating on top of the platform and customizing the other 20% to 30%, instead of recreating the same core platform.

The AGL UCB is quickly becoming the de facto industry standard across the industry. Many AGL members have already started integrating the UCB into their production plans, such as Toyota, which adopted the AGL platform for its next-generation infotainment system. Seen on the 2018 Toyota Camry, one of the best-selling vehicles in North America, the system is rolling out to most Toyota and Lexus vehicles worldwide.

AGL’s main focus to date has been on infotainment, since that has been the biggest pain point for automotive manufacturers, but the project roadmap includes all software in the vehicle: infotainment, telematics, instrument cluster, heads-up display, functional safety, advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving.

The rapid growth of AGL is proof that the automotive industry sees the value in working together around a shared platform. Members include nine automakers, seven of the largest semiconductor companies, and eight of the top Tier 1 infotainment suppliers.

AGL has recently surpassed over 120 member companies, a 60% membership growth rate over the past two years, and over 900 community developers, which are major milestones in terms of building out the AGL ecosystem.

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