The mass market for self-driving vehicles hasn’t yet arrived. But as automakers continue to integrate in-vehicle infotainment (IVI), and race down the path toward autonomous driving, there is no doubt that automotive cockpits are becoming increasingly defined by software. Data collectedfrom hundreds or even thousands of onboard sensors and embedded control units in a car—about climate control, seat positions, tire pressure, RPM, music preferences, in-car camera data, and much more—must be turned into actionable insight to make transportation more efficient, safer, smarter, and even more entertaining.
As the industry moves toward more advanced driving experiences, and as systems become more complex, there is real value in developing a vehicle data specification. Spearheading such an effort is the W3C Automotive Web Platform Business Group, which is co-chaired by Adam Abramski, senior product manager at Intel Corporation. With nearly 30 years working in the high-tech industry—and more than five years working with web standards and the building of platforms and application development tools that support and use web technologies—Adam and co-chair Paul Boyles (director, Telematics and Standards at OpenCar) are helping the group move the needle, quickly.
W3C Business Groups are organized to “provide high-bandwidth input to the standards process, to organize around regional or business interests.” (Get more details.) With membership in the hundreds, the Automotive Web Platform Business Group includes representatives from as many as 50 companies—including telecom carriers, service providers, Tier 1s, and OEMs—with a shared goal of accelerating the adoption of web technologies in the automotive industry. Open standards based on HTML5 appeal to developers who want to create apps for use across a wide variety of vehicle platforms. Standardization and interoperability are cost-effective and attract a larger pool of developers than native app development. In fact, Adam believes that these benefits are appealing to the automotive OEMs, and it’ll be the OEMs and Tier 1s that will need to utilize a web platform with standard APIs to compete against the smartphone vendors to determine who owns the next-generation digital cockpit and user experience in the car. Web technology allows OEMs and Tier 1s the ability to differentiate their brand and user experience while allowing their core apps and software to scale from low-end vehicle product lines to the high-end product lines without much, if any, effort.
The group is bringing developers, automotive manufacturers, automotive suppliers, browser vendors, operators, and other relevant members of the industry together to:
- Create specifications, starting with the Vehicle Data API Specification
- Provide use cases and other reports to identify additional needed standards work and to drive successful automotive webdeployments
A W3C Business Group cannot finalize specs—only a W3C Working Group has that authority—but progress on the spec has been swift (see the two spec reports here: www.w3.org/community/reports/#autowebplatform). After collecting and comparing existing, similar specs, the business group was able to identify which signals to focus on. With the help from editors—and insights gathered from recent implementations—the group narrowed the list down to somewhere between 200 and 300 signals to cover in the spec. And one of the goals is that the final spec will be expansible, allowing OEMs to expose other data signals through a web interface as desired.
Moving forward, Adam and Paul have drafted a charter to start a W3C Automotive Working Group with the goal of standardizing web specifications for the automotive industry. The W3C, Intel, and OpenCar are looking for companies that would like to participate and lead this effort. With the effort to standardize common web interfaces through the W3C standards body, Adam hopes the automotive industry will leverage web technology in the vehicle. Thanks to the efforts of the Automotive Web Platform Business Group, his optimism is certainly well-founded.
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. For more insights and observations of the Intel experts and engineers working to advance the next generation of driving experiences, read these recent blog posts.