Automotive Innovation – Skip the Open vs. Closed Debate

In the Internet of Things, the car is more than just a “thing” and is becoming more like a “system of systems” that can securely aggregate, filter and share data to the cloud.  As this happens, the focus of the automotive industry is rapidly turning to computing hardware and software.

The pace of change—coupled with the highly competitive nature of the industry—Auto Open Innovationintroduces several challenges for car OEM design teams charged with developing in-vehicle technology solutions across car models and many years into the future. Consumers’ expectations for a car that’s a part of their digital lifestyle is also a driving factor. Near the top of the list of challenges is whether to embrace open systems and standards or go it alone with proprietary solutions that could leave competitors scrambling to catch up.

Similar debates raged for years in the server, PC, and mobile industries. The telecommunications industry, for example, debated open platforms for nearly a decade while sinking billions of dollars into competing closed systems. Eventually carriers and telecom equipment manufacturers concluded that the future was in open architectures and software-driven technology and embraced the freedom of open systems to spur and accelerate innovation.

The automotive industry should look to the lessons of the past and avoid the high cost, long lead times, and inefficiencies of a protracted open versus closed debate.

Open scalability

With engineers working 5 to 7 years into the future, automobile OEMs need systems that can scale from an entry-level car to a high-end model from 2014 all the way out to 2024. With such dependencies and timeframes, any shift in engineering approaches can risk millions (or billions) of dollars in technical investments.

At the software level, proprietary algorithms written in a specific way to utilize the GPU, CPU, and silicon often do not translate across different hardware configurations. Open platforms that support public APIs could allow developers to write code that can be applied across multiple hardware platforms versus rewriting the application for each hardware configuration.

Open for business

We’ve learned from other industries how much better open platforms are at lowering TCO, attracting new innovators, and accelerating development. In-Vehicle-Infotainment (IVI), Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS), and autonomous driving systems stand to benefit greatly under open architectures as market entrants from parallel industries and academia develop new solutions unfettered by the limitations of proprietary closed platforms.

The automotive industry is ripe for such innovation. Change is rarely easy, but this is a natural evolution as industry players up and down the automotive supply chain seek the next level of value that they can deliver. The result will be a more dynamic and efficient design environment that delivers more functional, comfortable, and safer automobiles. Let’s skip past the long debate on open versus closed systems in automotive and get right down to perfecting the intelligent vehicles of the future. The time to open up and innovate is now.

Learn more about Intel’s efforts in automotive.

About the automotive blog series:

From in-vehicle infotainment to autonomous driving, Intel is using its proven expertise and R&D in computing technology, automotive systems, and consumer electronics to help automotive industry partners accelerate the evolution of connected, intelligent vehicles. This series is designed to offer the insights and observations of the Intel experts and engineers working to advance the next generation of driving experiences.

One Response to Automotive Innovation – Skip the Open vs. Closed Debate

  1. AMIT DUBE says:

    Modern Automotive for sure is a system of system. However, reaching a prescription of open platform as the most potent approach to foster innovation is not appropriate.
    Cars are perfect platform where in three distinct domains namely mission critical , critical-communicable and open-communicable are existing. I have put in powertrain& safety system in mission critical, HVAC, Body Systems in Critical Communicable, Infotainment and other consumer application system in open communicable system.
    OEMs are still using time tested closed (to a large extent native) systems in first two domains. However, there are European initiatives like AUTOSAR is step in the direction to cooperate and co-develop optimized solutions in these domain. This is a quasi-open platform. But these are the domains demanding performances which at best can be met by quasi-open system only.
    Last but not the least third domain where in Infotainment and other consumer electronics application reside is fortunate enough to have telecom companies (e.g. AT&T), Internet Companies (e.g. Google), Software companies (e.g. Microsoft) and consumer electronics companies (e.g. APPLE) are offering solutions, carving new OEM relations and locking horns in getting a bigger share of business.
    Above is the existing reality in Automotive. Let us see how things pan out……