It’s CES 2o17 news that isn’t as hype friendly as the debut of VR porn or a drone that can return Dorothy from Oz, but Ford, Toyota and a group of major automotive industry companies made an important announcement during the big Las Vegas tech show. They’ve joined forces to create the SmartDeviceLink Consortium to make the apps we use in cars open source and more uniform across car technology platforms.
Ford and Toyota established this SmartDeviceLink Consortium, Inc. (SDLC) as an open source community for the advancement of SmartDeviceLink (SDL), “a standard set of protocols and messages that connect applications on a smartphone to a vehicle head unit.” That’s a lot of big tech words that could just as easily say “…We’re getting automotive apps and their makers on the same page.”
As in-car apps for infotainment and other uses arrived and evolved, the entire field became a little scattershot with multiple automakers and third party providers creating their own competing software and in-car interactions. This new nonprofit organization wants to manage an open source software platform with the goal of “giving consumers more choice in how they connect and control their smartphone apps on the road.”
So far, Mazda Motor Corporation, PSA Group, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. and Suzuki Motor Corporation are the first automaker members, while Elektrobit, Luxoft, and Xevo join as the first supplier members. Harman, Panasonic, Pioneer and QNX also signed Letters of Intent to join.
While making apps more uniform across the automotive range is a good idea in and of itself, it’s also a major step toward getting car builders and their suppliers talking to each other about getting on the same page technologically. For better or worse, we’ll be seeing more self-driving offerings and V2X automotive communications efforts coming down the road soon, and those efforts will only work when all cars talk to themselves and each other in the same way regardless of make or model.