Red Hat and General Motors collaborate on software-defined vehicles

Red Hat collaborates with General Motors to advance software-defined vehicles at the edge, expanding innovation around Red Hat In-Vehicle Operating System.
12 May 2022

(Photo by Brandon Bell / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

The automotive industry continues to witness increasing innovations thanks to emerging technologies. Today, vehicles, be they autonomous or not, are extremely data-driven. And to ensure the data from modern vehicles are well processed and managed, the operating system of the vehicle is the most important component.

Be it autonomous driving or vehicle maintenance, the operating system needs to be advanced and capable of processing data at the edge itself. The system also needs to be secure, both in cybersecurity and enforcing critical safety priorities.

According to Francis Chow, the VP and general manager, In-Vehicle Operating System and Edge at Red Hat, adopting open-source software in lieu of proprietary operating systems can introduce an avenue for establishing common standards and fosters an ecosystem of Linux-savvy automotive developers.

“By utilizing open-source software, the automotive industry can help alleviate many of these issues and as a result, modernize their strategies while meeting customers’ present-day needs,” commented Chow in a blog post.

According to SBD Automotive, the convergence of electrification, high-performance computing, autonomous driving, digital integration and ubiquitous connectivity now creates an opportunity for car manufacturers to enhance customer experiences and engender greater brand loyalty through novel business models, features and experiences–all primarily enabled by software.

As such, Red Hat has announced a collaboration with General Motors to help advance software-defined vehicles at the edge. The companies expect to expand an ecosystem of innovation around the Red Hat In-Vehicle Operating System, which provides a functional-safety certified Linux operating system foundation intended for the ongoing evolution of GM’s Ultifi software platform.

The collaboration between Red Hat and GM will witness Red Hat’s cloud-native, enterprise-grade open-source operating system accelerating the development of GM’s software-defined vehicle programs following Ultifi’s initial launch. This will enable both companies to offer customers more valuable features responsibly in a fraction of the typical development time.

For Scott Miller, vice president for Software-Defined Vehicle and Operating System at General Motors, working with Red Hat is a critical element in advancing GM’s Ultifi software development. He added that incorporating the company’s expertise in open source solutions and enterprise networks will pay dividends as we aim to provide the most developer-friendly software platform in the industry.

Red Hat General Motors

(Source – Red Hat)

Red Hat’s open-source systems are already being used by other carmakers. Among them include Volkswagen, BMW, and Audi. BMW’s new data platform, created using Red Hat® software, helped reduce development time with faster, more accurate driving simulations and data analytics.

Audi created a stable, scalable environment for innovative development across cloud platforms that helped the company reduce time to market and increase responsiveness to demand. Meanwhile, Volkswagen created a testing environment that combines virtual and real-life testing to facilitate component integrations, introduce self-service provisioning, and reduce costs for system tests by 50%.

When it comes to in-vehicle software systems, they can be rather complex and require high levels of cybersecurity protection and stringent certifications due to critical safety priorities, In current systems, these robust requirements can often lengthen the development process and make vehicle software updates difficult, with each update requiring recertification.

Together, GM and Red Hat intend to make these complex vehicle updates simpler and more frequent by implementing continuous functional-safety certification into the Ultifi platform with Red Hat In-Vehicle Operating System pioneering the continuous certification approach. The integrated software is expected to support a variety of in-vehicle safety- and non-safety-related applications, including infotainment, advanced driver assistance systems, body control, and connectivity.

As such, the transportation industry can benefit from faster innovation and better sustainability through standardization with open-source Linux and cloud-native technologies. Common standards can help increase software reuse and achieve a more scalable design process, giving GM the ability to dedicate more resources toward new personalized in-cabin experiences, vehicle modes, and other features customers will enjoy.

A new dawn for Red Hat and General Motors

Chow highlighted that with millions of lines of code sustaining critical systems like driver assistance, fuel economy, and more, modern vehicles are more like mobile high-performance computers than the cars of the past. Chow believes the time to innovate is now.

“These new vehicles give our industries a chance to create a common open platform without sacrificing functional safety. By collaborating with GM on the Red Hat In-Vehicle Operating System, we intend to bring the era of open source to the automotive world, benefiting automakers, ecosystem partners, and consumers,” added Chow.

With the integration of the Red Hat In-Vehicle Operating System into the Ultifi platform, GM and Red Hat look to achieve:

  • reduced costs from consolidation and reuse of software across a common platform
  • an improved development cycle for faster time-to-market with new customer features and software improvements
  • continuous functional safety certification for systems related to safety applications
  • Creation of new services, business models, and revenue streams

Ultifi, GM’s end-to-end vehicle software platform, is expected to enable frequent and more seamless delivery of software-defined features, apps, and services to customers over the air with Red Hat contributing to its phased roll-out which will launch in 2023.

To do this, the platform separates the application software from the hardware to offer application program interfaces for software development. Creating a more flexible architecture unlocks the potential for more cloud-based services, faster software development, and new value for customers without affecting basic hardware controls.

As a Linux-based system, Ultifi is designed to be universally usable for GM developers, suppliers, and the developer community at large. Using Linux allows for skilled talent from many industries to quickly get up to speed and bolster innovation through non-traditional thinking.