The software defined vehicle effort gained an ally, with General Motors announcing it has joined the Eclipse Software Defined Vehicle Foundation, which says it seeks to provide members a mature, scalable, and business-friendly environment for open-source software collaboration and innovation.
Additionally, GM will contribute its uProtocol standard for connectivity between automotive applications and services so that all Eclipse members can employ the technology. The purpose of uProtocol is to streamline the creation of software that is distributed across multiple devices within vehicles as well as across the cloud and mobile.
The company already collaborated with members Microsoft and Red Hat on its Ultify software platform. As an Eclipse Foundation member, GM will participate in the Software Defined Vehicle Working Group, which is tasked with accelerating development of automotive-grade software stacks using open source and open specifications that are developed by and for the growing community of SDV engineers and Eclipse member companies.
The aim of Eclipse members is to both save duplicative work on non-differentiating underlying technology and to avoid the outcome of a fragmented ecosystem where apps developed for each carmaker require custom coding. "By creating an open, shared software-defined vehicle protocol, we hope we can enable software to be easily shared across multiple companies and across smartphones, vehicle computers, and cloud services,” explained Frank Ghenassia, executive chief architect of Software Defined Vehicles at General Motors.
The company noticed that the Eclipse Foundation could use a standard like GM’s uProtocol, which was why the company decided to join the foundation, Ghenassia reported during a presentation to reporters. “The reason for the timing of GM joining Eclipse at this time is the call in the industry to build something similar to uProtocol,” he said.
Rather than stand by and watch others work on something similar, GM decided to contribute its technology to the foundation for all to share. An important attraction for uProtocol for prospective users is that the technology is already production-grade, as it is employed by GM’s Ultify platform, which will debut on a GM production vehicle later this year. “We are contributing a field-proven technology,” Ghenassia said. “Other industry players can rely on the robust, field-proven technology.”
Existing Eclipse Foundation members have demonstrated interest in uProtocol, he added. “We have received a number of inquiries and definite interest in supporting and adopting uProtocol from members within the Eclipse Foundation,” stated Ghenassia. “Hopefully uProtocol is a piece of the puzzle and can and will be used.”
Asked how members responded to the announcement during a recent Eclipse Foundation conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, replied, “Enthusiastically!”
It is important to note that Ghenassia’s description of uProtocol as a “piece of the puzzle” is crucial, because while it allows software components to talk to each other, uProtocol does not address the structure of the message or content. “This is also needed to achieve full interoperability and software reuse across the industry,” he added.
GM’s Eclipse membership and contribution of the uProtocol help give the vision of software-defined vehicles a push, said Milinkovich. “The vision of creating a shared platform for non-differentiating features in vehicles is gaining traction across the industry,” he said. “There is so much software that needs to be built to realize software defined vehicles, and much of it is non-differentiating, or something that the customer will feel in the vehicle.”