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The automotive industry’s pendulum of innovation continues to swing towards open source. Historically speaking, it has been challenging to accelerate innovation within the automotive space due to lengthy development cycles, stringent safety certifications, and proprietary software. To combat this, automotive leaders are working to modernize and standardize practices in order to bring customers the latest and greatest in features and services while designing for functional safety. As a result, automakers are shifting into high gear as they engage open source communities and organizations like Red Hat to bring greater flexibility, customer engagement and increased innovation to their vehicle designs. Adopting universal open source software, such as Red Hat In-Vehicle Operating System, can help automakers integrate software defined vehicles technologies into their line up more quickly than ever before.

Earlier this year, Red Hat announced a collaboration with General Motors to redefine the transportation landscape with a continuous functional-safety certified, Linux-based in-vehicle operating system. This helped set the stage for the use cases that will shape the collective automotive industry’s future. This was just the first step of our journey; Red Hat also works with Qualcomm Technologies Inc. to develop and help deliver functional-safety certified systems built on Linux to support mission critical applications for automakers. With this step, Red Hat In-Vehicle Operating System will be integrated with and tested on the Snapdragon Digital Chassis–a set of cloud-connected platforms for telematics and connectivity, digital cockpit and advanced driver assistance. 

By working together, Red Hat and Qualcomm Technologies can offer automakers the benefit of improved methodologies and processes to accelerate innovation at reduced costs. The current state where automotive SoC vendors maintain private branches for Board Support Packages (BSPs), leaves automakers with a challenging support and maintenance problem.  It takes a lot of resources and effort to keep SoC support current as the underlying operating system evolves.  By committing to fully leverage the open source approach, employing an “upstream first” philosophy and limiting out of tree elements in board and device support, the goal of long lived support and continued feature innovation as the underlying open source baseline evolves can be realized.

While rapid transformation doesn’t happen overnight, collaborative work like this within our ecosystem of customers and partners is crucial to building, testing and certifying Linux-based automotive systems. With better, increased automation for safety certification steps, re-certification–which has often been a bottleneck within the industry– can occur in a fraction of the typically required time. This is how Red Hat is helping drive automakers forward–by not only providing open technologies, but by helping the automotive world understand, adapt to and embrace open source concepts for the benefits of the whole ecosystem and end customers.


About the author

Francis Chow is currently VP & GM, In-vehicle Operating System and Edge at Red Hat. Previously, he spent five years at VMware and was VP, Operations, Business Development and Strategy of the Telco and Edge Cloud Business Unit. Prior to VMware, Chow spent about 20 years in the semiconductor industry in leadership roles spanning across Engineering, Corporate Development, Marketing and Sales, and was a VP/GM for a $1B P&L before venturing into the software world. Chow holds an MBA and an MSEE from University of California at Berkeley and a BSEE from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has seven US patents.

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