Open source?

A particularly interesting subject in the world of autonomous cars is the open source status of the algorithms driving these cars.

The Open-Source model is a model for developing software wherein the code is available to the public.  The idea is that this freedom to view the code will encourage three things: (1) an increased knowledge base in the public in terms of code, (2) improved code because improvements can essentially be crowdsourced, and (3) more trust in the code, since nothing nefarious can be hidden. This idea is so popular there are entire organizations dedicated to it, like the Open Source Initiative. 

This kind of sharing could do wonders for autonomous vehicles.  The public would trust the vehicles more and the code could constantly be re-examined.  Each manufacturer could share their safety technology, like Volvo did with the seatbelt, as opposed to hiding it away and risking public safety.

There are risks of course. Open-source software introduces safety concerns and can lead to confusion in the public over a necessary line of code that can seem nefarious.  Certain procedures would have to be hidden, such as update procedures, to reduce hackability.

Overall, open-source is something the car industry should consider for some, but not all, of its algorithms related to self-driving cars.

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