The next time you’re stuck in heavy traffic, and see the person in the driver’s seat of the Mercedes S-Class next to you not paying any attention, perhaps reading a book, there might not be a need to worry! They might be behind the wheel of one of the first autonomous cars (in every sense but the name) operating in “follow the car in front of me” mode. While this type of premium feature will be found only in some top-class luxury cars initially, we may eventually see it become more mainstream.
At last month’s FutureTalks Summer Series event in New Relic’s Portland offices (see video below), we heard from Andrew Wilson, one of the grandfathers of open source at Intel. He shared with us how cars and their rapidly advancing in-vehicle automation systems promise a not-too-distant future scenario where regulation, technology, economics, and individual rights will intersect in new and unforeseen ways. As chief open source compliance officer for Intel, when Andrew is not reviewing the license manifests of soon-to-be-released code as part of his day job, he likes to ponder bigger ideas, including autonomous cars and the role open source is playing in their development and future.
What open source can do for autonomous vehicles
The motivation for the development of these vehicles in certainly clear. Even partially autonomous vehicles have the potential to be safer (than cars driven by distracted human rubberneckers), navigate more fuel efficient routes below the speed limit, and network with other nearby autonomous vehicles to optimize traffic patterns. But Andrew points out that these vehicles will likely be produced by companies that probably have no corporate culture of openness, and that the software will likely have been developed in a totally-closed proprietary setting.
So how can open source, already used in numerous areas of consumer electronics, contribute to the success of autonomous vehicles? Watch Andrew’s FutureTalk below to hear more about the software and the data, the hackers, the lawyers, and even Big Brother. It’s your chance to muse on the prospect that the car hurtling down the freeway next to you might be running on an unpatched equivalent of Windows 95!
Want to experience FutureTalks in person? Join us on Monday, August 11th, 2014 for a FutureTalk with Trace Smith from Next Glass. Stay tuned for more FutureTalk updates and event details by joining our new Meetup group, New Relic FutureTalks PDX, and following us on Twitter @newrelic.