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Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Toshiba headline Japan's entry into the in-car OS field

In early April, DailyTech reported on Toyota's efforts to create an in-car operating system for its vehicles. Toyota's plan was to create a base operating system that could be used in all of its vehicles with plug-ins for vehicle-specific functions.

Today the Yomiuri Shimbun reports that Toyota's efforts will be rolled into joint OS development team composed of both technology companies and auto manufacturers. Toyota along with Nissan, Honda, Denso and Toshiba will form the Japan Automotive Software Platform Architecture (JasPar).

Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry plans to allocate 1 billion yen ($8.41 million USD) for the project during fiscal year 2008. A prototype for the OS is planned for fiscal year 2009 and commercial availability is expected before the end of the next decade.

Japanese-based companies are not the only ones looking to develop a far-reaching automotive OS. BMW, Mercedes and other European Union (EU) auto manufacturers are developing an in-car OS which will reach the prototype phase in 2008.

The competing Japanese and European operating systems will help to drive down the costs associated with manufacturing automobiles. It is estimated that electronic components and software are responsible for 20 percent of overall productions costs for modern automobiles and close to 50 percent for hybrids such as Toyota’s Prius.

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I sound like a...
By shamgar03 on 7/30/2007 12:31:11 PM , Rating: 1
Linux fanboy, but I don't see why they aren't using an existing *nix operating system. There are already versions to run on every MCU and CPU out there. It would add a great deal of flexibility as well. Since power is practically a non-issue on cars, there is no reason to make a custom "ultra-light" OS.

RE: I sound like a...
By OxBow on 7/30/2007 12:37:16 PM , Rating: 3
Power might not much of an issue, but speed and reliability are. I'd expect the amount of time their dedicating to this relates to safety and accountability.

If you're PC crashes, it is almost never a life or death issue. If your car crashes, it almost always is.

RE: I sound like a...
By Duraz0rz on 7/30/2007 12:42:54 PM , Rating: 3
Perhaps *nix is too heavy/complex for this application? Just reading from the DT article, the OS will be used to drive the electronics in the car system, and introducing elements not needed would make it harder to debug and such.

Writing it from scratch means you know exactly what's going in, makes it much more lightweight, and easier to debug/diagnose what's going on in the case of car mechanics.

RE: I sound like a...
By masher2 on 7/30/2007 12:47:40 PM , Rating: 2
> "Linux fanboy, but I don't see why they aren't using an existing *nix operating system"

Linux isn't a RTOS, which I assume would be a major requirement in this new OS.

RE: I sound like a...
By Flunk on 7/30/2007 12:54:39 PM , Rating: 5
Well, unless you want your cars drive by wire controls (gas pedal, eventually steering and brakes) to freeze up occasionally while the OS processes a large load.

To get past the sarcasm a Realtime OS is absolutley necessary for software running vital functions. Linux does not fit the bill.

As a side note, the long development time doesn't surprise me either. Keeping everything going in real time is difficult and testing this would be very time consuming. The last thing we need is cars that rely on unstable computer systems.

RE: I sound like a...
By afkrotch on 8/21/2007 3:56:25 AM , Rating: 2
I don't see why they don't work with world rally car engineers. Cars like the Subaru Impreza WRC already use a drive by wire system. They have been for a few years.

I don't know how the reliability of the OS is or even if it's an OS and not individual components used to drive the different areas.

RE: I sound like a...
By helios220 on 7/30/2007 2:21:36 PM , Rating: 5
While the original poster may not have realized that differences between an RTOS and desktop/server/workstation flavor of Linux there are real-time Linux based operating systems.

The POSIX standard is a UNIX based standard that was created explicitly for use in portable operating systems (most often embedded devices) and is a key element of many RTOS such as VxWorks and the LynxOs from LynuxWorks.

Although these OS' were originally based off of Unix standards, many such as LynxOs have full Linux compatibility and are used to in avionics to operate both commercial and military aircraft. Unix/Linux based RTOS are more than capable for use in a comparatively absurdly simple application such as a car.

RE: I sound like a...
By omnicronx on 7/30/2007 2:36:49 PM , Rating: 2
Smart man, there is more than one RTOS based on linux. LynuxWorks in particular makes high end avionics O/S used specifically for mission critical applications.
So if we can trust nix in a plane.. which could fall from the sky at anytime, we can trust it in a car anyday ;)

RE: I sound like a...
By tacorly on 7/30/07, Rating: 0
RE: I sound like a...
By omnicronx on 7/30/2007 3:11:59 PM , Rating: 3
your right.. they encounter huge increases/decreases in pressure, turbulence that can rip the plane in two, thunderstorms, need i really go on?
Please do not compare a plane to a car, passenger/military jets are far more advanced and have many more things to go wrong than a car ever will.

RE: I sound like a...
By helios220 on 7/30/2007 4:58:43 PM , Rating: 2
That is correct, there is not bumper to bumper traffic in the Sky. Developing a fully autonomous ground vehicle capable of of obstacle detection, path planning and operation without human intervention is no laughing matter, trust me I've worked on a UGV (unmanned ground vehicle) before.

However, the article gives no indication that the OS will be actually driving the car, the OS is there to support the driver and control the various subsytems of the car. However despite the difficulties of creating an autonmous ground vehicle, I am currently employed as an embedded Software Engineer at a defense contractor designing military helicopter avionics, the complexity of of modern flight control systems and avionics is no less complicated than any of the work being done by DARPA teams on the Grand Challenge, instead the avionics industry simply has existed for much longer and has had greater time to solve the design challenges that are faced to achieve controlled flight.

RE: I sound like a...
By elFarto on 7/30/2007 2:24:14 PM , Rating: 3
Actually it can be:

There are also various other real time Linux projects, parts of which have already been merged into the mainline kernel (preemptable and tickless kernel come to mind).


RE: I sound like a...
By ninjit on 7/30/2007 4:01:16 PM , Rating: 2
I kept reading that URL as Win Driver instead of Wind River (the company's actual name), and I assumed it was some website dedicated to the use of windows to operate a vehicle.


RE: I sound like a...
By Macungah on 7/31/2007 3:58:04 AM , Rating: 3
Maybe they can't pronounce it...
I drive my Rexus w/ Rinux on it! Of course, they don't have Lexus in Japan anyhow
I'm sure these companies are looking for royalties for licensing if their tech is particularly successful. Just look at Toyota's hybrid stuff, they "loan" it to other companies (Ford Escape hybrid).

Hmmm Sounds like PnP to me
By TimberJon on 7/30/2007 2:39:20 PM , Rating: 2
From Article:
..base operating system that could be used in all of its vehicles with plug-ins for vehicle-specific functions..

Seems to me that they do not want to develop ECUs for each model vehicle and engine that use different transmission types, exhaust systems, vehicle stability control, EBS, Etc.. Etc...

SO! make a base OS, put it into an ECU housing, and have it ready to accept program packages for each of the variables.

Additionally, since the article says
plug-ins for vehicle-specific functions
, this could be the extra technology for the tracking headlights, car alarm, AWD, or whatever. It would be nice to install aftermarket engine performance parts, and just install a software addition in order to make it mesh. THAT would be nice. It might put tuners out of business, but then, they would be able to bend around that and still sell themselves as Auto-PnP Specialists.

As a base OS, that alone tells me that it will need additions. Now not everyone would be able to USB up to their car and fiddle, because you could stray from EPA emissions requirements, but even in hardwired systems, it is usually circumvented by the enthusiast and you cannot stop them. Hopefully they don't try to lock out user or tuner access too much. Providing a "suite" to hook up to the car at a high price per unit will help provide access to OS additions.

I love this stuff..

RE: Hmmm Sounds like PnP to me
By exdeath on 7/30/2007 3:25:27 PM , Rating: 2
When they start locking things out, thats when it's time to go standalone (AEM, Motec, Haltech, etc).

Sorry, I don't lease my car, I bought it outright and I will do whatever I want to it.

RE: Hmmm Sounds like PnP to me
By Samus on 7/30/2007 6:42:21 PM , Rating: 3
If I die in a crash from a BSOD; my electronically controlled brakes and throttle don't work, I'm going to come back from purgatory for Gates' head before I'm sent to hell.

RE: Hmmm Sounds like PnP to me
By oTAL on 7/31/2007 3:55:32 AM , Rating: 3
Poor Mr. Gates...
Every time a programmer screws up it's his fault (even if the guy works for another company).

Seems Like A Long Time
By Exodus220 on 7/30/2007 12:24:31 PM , Rating: 2
A prototype for the OS is planned for fiscal year 2009 and commercial availability is expected before the end of the next decade.

I don't know if it is just me, but if they already have the prototype being worked on then doesn't it seem odd to take it another 10 years before the final product is completed? Perhaps that is a mistake, but in my eyes it seems as if it should not take that long to perfect the OS. However, I am not a developer so I am not aware of the process timeline.

RE: Seems Like A Long Time
By phatboye on 7/30/2007 12:30:27 PM , Rating: 2
I'm no developer either but I'm sure it won't take 10 years, must be a typo.

RE: Seems Like A Long Time
By Brandon Hill on 7/30/2007 12:36:28 PM , Rating: 2
The original quote is for a prototype in 2009 with a finished product in 5 to 10 years.

It was not specified if that meant 5 to 10 years from today or 2009, so I just put end of the next decade to be safe :)

RE: Seems Like A Long Time
By Duraz0rz on 7/30/2007 12:46:01 PM , Rating: 2
You have a prototype for testing purposes, then probably a few test releases before the final version is released. Remember that you also have quite a few car manufacturers that are collaborating to develop this, so each of them have to test the OS in their car models and gather data on them as well before moving on and seeing what needs to be improved.

Also, documentation, research, bug-fixing, coding, etc etc.

Microsoft and Fiat
By fehu on 7/30/2007 3:12:28 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know if its completely pertinent, but Microsoft yet developed a new os for automotive in collaboration with the italian fiat.

At the moment it's only placed on new 500 model, but in the near future it will appear on all the hight end fiat model

it's a lot like the bmw os for series 3/7 but with added multimedia and phone capacities

RE: Microsoft and Fiat
By omnicronx on 7/30/2007 3:26:08 PM , Rating: 1
chances are anything bought from Microsoft is going to cost you more in licensing fees than it would to make it in house, plus the fact they can gear it directly to their specs.

RE: Microsoft and Fiat
By ninjit on 7/30/2007 4:06:44 PM , Rating: 2
It's a bit different than what this article is refering too.

The MS Fiat collaboration is for essentially a carputer, something that will play music/movies/pictures, show navi informations, operate handsfree telephony, etc. Pretty much all the user comforts within the vehicle, and maybe also act as a VIC (Vehicle Information Center).
But it won't actually run the car itself, that's almost always handled by custom logic in an ECM and/or PCM.

That's what this new endeavor is trying to replace: they want to do away with the custom designed control modules for every vehicle they produce, and instead use a generic system with software that can be tweaked for each specific models needs and configuration.

Think !
By Quryous on 7/30/2007 4:01:15 PM , Rating: 2
The end of the decade is 2010.

RE: Think !
By Snuffalufagus on 7/30/2007 4:10:31 PM , Rating: 2
"availability is expected before the end of the next decade"

The end of the next decade is 2020.

What is your point?

10 years to production
By Senju on 7/30/2007 7:46:01 PM , Rating: 3
I don't know.....I think 10 years is not too far fetched for a n OS from development phase to full production phase. I think there is a game called Duke Nukem forever that is almost in 10 years of development and that is just a game! Maybe we should shorten their lunch breaks.

By exdeath on 7/30/2007 1:55:31 PM , Rating: 2
What's wrong with vxworks?

By CTO on 7/30/2007 9:52:46 PM , Rating: 2
I have been in the technology field, professionally, for 17 years and have been into "technology" for probably 27 years. There is little doubt in my mind that there is enough "horsepower" in current computing systems to develop a vehicle that can drive itself and do it safely.

The concern and issues would be the LEGAL costs associated with deploying this technology (especially in the US) and then the associated production cost. My opinion is that the LEGAL costs associated would be most prohibitive. The initial offering would be guaranteed to be VERY expensive, at first, and probably only offered in Flagship cars, such as an Audi A8, MB S-Class or the Lexus LH.

This is the first step. It is interesting that no one is taking a global approach to OS development. Japan, Korea, China, the EU and the US should examine a standardized OS with interoperability for scalability around the globe. It would benefit all involved by genertaing penetration into new markets and help to spread production costs effectively across the major manufacturers, thus lowering initial capital expenditures.

Ultimately it "should" benefit the consumer with lower cost vehicles, with greater fuel efficiency (traffic patterns can be managed as all systems could communciate and route appropriately) and safer transportation options (thus reducing the costs of auto insurance and medical liabilities).

Technology Enables Potential...

What happend to MS'es in car OS?
By phatboye on 7/30/07, Rating: -1
RE: What happend to MS'es in car OS?
By Master Kenobi on 7/30/2007 3:30:21 PM , Rating: 2
Give it a rest, the BSOD problem has largely died away. Why not rag on the old Apple OS for the sad face during boot?

RE: What happend to MS'es in car OS?
By sc3252 on 7/30/2007 4:08:10 PM , Rating: 2
Quak! Quak! all I remember from my middle school was the sound of ducks calling me. The apple OS seemed like such a piece of shit in the 90's. Nothing seemed to work right, it was almost as bad as windows ME. Of course My experience with the Mac's isnt very extensive. Mostly word crashing on me while writing a project in school.

I don't even remember what version of the os my school's computer lab used, all I remember was the new Imacs(233MHz and above) were coming in to replace the old power mac's that were running 75MHz cpu's and 100MHz cpu's. With everyone who went into the computer lab trying to grab a 233 and above as quick as possible.

Black screen of actual death
By GhandiInstinct on 7/30/07, Rating: -1
RE: Black screen of actual death
By arazok on 7/30/2007 3:01:29 PM , Rating: 2
I'm so sick of BSOD comments. It's soooo 1990's.

RE: Black screen of actual death
By exdeath on 7/30/2007 3:29:17 PM , Rating: 2

I haven't had a BSOD in 3 years and that was due to defective hardware.

Explorer.exe however, being full of more holes than swiss cheese for plug ins, add ons, shell extensions, etc, and being exploited more than a first time inmates bunghole, is another story.

RE: Black screen of actual death
By dajeepster on 7/30/2007 3:42:29 PM , Rating: 2
I just got a BSOD last weekend. I was loading the drivers for Logitech's Webcam 5000 in Vista 64bit... I took pictures too of the screen... I could hardly believe it myself, it's been at least a good two years since i've seen one. After a reboot, everything was fine, webcam worked fine too.

RE: Black screen of actual death
By GotDiesel on 7/30/07, Rating: 0
RE: Black screen of actual death
By Treckin on 7/31/07, Rating: 0
"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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