Automotive Grade Linux Hits the Road

With the first release of Automotive Grade Linux, Linux isn't just for servers, supercomputers and phones anymore.

connected car

The first release of Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) is out today, providing car vendors with an open-source platform on which to embed applications and features. AGL officially started in September 2012 as a collaboration project operated by the Linux Foundation and currently has 32 members, including Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, Jaguar and Intel, on its roster.

Dan Cauchy, general manager of automotive at the Linux Foundation, explained to eWEEK that AGL is built on the open-source Tizen Linux project, and provides additional HTML5- and JavaScript-based applications. AGL includes a number of applications as part of its reference platform, including media playback, dashboard, Bluetooth phone and news reader capabilities.

"AGL is built on Tizen with folks like Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota, Denso, Aisin AW, Panasonic, Intel and others contributing modules to the user experience as well as their use cases and requirements," Cauchy said. "The community is also working on a comprehensive telematics and services framework for integration with other devices and the cloud."

From an application ecosystem standpoint, AGL is a platform that will enable software vendors to write apps for it that will run across all compliant AGL implementations. The AGL community is working on an app development framework based on HTML5 and JavaScript with bindings to a messaging bus for sensor and control data both to and from networks in the vehicle, Cauchy said. For example, the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) module controls a car's HVAC by sending commands to the Controller Area Network (CAN) bus and retrieving the actual temperature. The audio control module sets volume, balance and tone controls of an automotive amplifier via the Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST) bus.

Cauchy stressed that the key to the success of AGL is continued collaboration.

"An industry like this that's new to open source takes time to evolve, but there's a lot of momentum in the space right now," Cauchy said. "The great thing about AGL is that anyone can have a seat at the table to create and change the platform at its source."

In the embedded Linux space, there are already a number of vendors, including Intel's Wind River as well as Cavium's MontaVista, that could potentially benefit from AGL.

"MontaVista and Wind River are operating system vendors," Cauchy said. "For them, AGL presents an opportunity because they can build value-added product and service offerings with it, adapt AGL to meet their customers' needs, and do things like maintain deployments with updates and upgrades."

Moving forward for the rest of 2014, Cauchy said that the focus for AGL is to build a fully functional reference implementation for an in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) system that is entirely backed by a comprehensive specification and requirements.

"AGL will not only open-source the entire software stack but also all of the design documents, too," Cauchy said. "This will be huge for the automotive industry."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.