Autoware Foundation Focusing on Open Source AV Development

A host of international technology companies have come together to form the Autoware Foundation, a non-profit organization supporting open source projects to aid development of autonomous vehicles.

The three key founders of the foundation are open source collaborative engineering organization Linaro, Japan-based intelligent vehicle technology company Tier IV and US-based autonomous mobility systems software company Apex.AI.

The mission of the foundation is to initiate, grow, and fund Autoware projects, starting with Autoware.AI, Autoware.Auto and Autoware.IO.

The Autoware.AI platform was created in 2015 by Shinpei Kato at Nagoya University in Japan, and is currently supported by a large autonomous-driving open source community.

Among the other founding members are the tech giants Huawei and LG, UK-based open source AV developer StreetDrone, Toyota Research Institute Advanced Development (TRI-AD) and Silicon Valley-based Lidar startup Velodyne.

“The value of open sourcing lies in the collaboration between companies. Enabling a number of players to enter development enables these companies to leverage the other’s experience in certain industries and accelerate development by sharing problems,” Sam Barker, senior analyst at Juniper, wrote in an email to TU-Automotive.

Barker noted that an additional benefit to collaboration on open source projects such as this is that smaller players often bring a degree of innovation to the table that larger companies can overlook.

“This, in turn, can bring a disruption to practices or a new enabling technology to the development of autonomous vehicles, which can speed up development or time to market,” Barker explained.

The original Autoware project is based on Robot Operating System (ROS) 1, an open source operating system for autonomous and robotic applications.

The foundation was created to aid development of, an interface project for Autoware combining proprietary software with third-party software for sensors and hardware-dependent programs for system on chip (SoC) boards.

Based on ROS 2 — a new version of ROS — currently under development, Autoware.Auto is designed to be an “all-in-one” open source software suite for self-driving vehicles hosted under the Autoware Foundation.

Autoware.Auto will initially address two use cases — autonomous valet parking and autonomous depot maneuvering

The foundation claims after the initial set of milestones is reached, Autoware.Auto will allow users to map a parking lot, create a map for autonomous driving and drive over this parking lot entirely autonomously in less than two weeks.

“These two use cases are likely to be amongst the first to test the capabilities of fully autonomous systems, as their environments have little risk involved with their use,” Barker explained.

He said this would provide a solid foundation for Autoware Foundation to build upon as the market continues to move towards a fully autonomous solution.

“We predicted that there would need to be a greater deal of industry collaboration, and this has become clear as the industry comes closer to commercial launches, as collaboration will enable a much smoother launch of fully autonomous vehicles when the market gets to that stage,” Barker explained.

He noted that future collaborations of this type would likely lead to the development of solutions that could have a much more visible impact on how vehicles operate on a daily basis.

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter.

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