MemberMay 5, 2022 at 1:44 pm
Just curious (because my background is in software) and because this may (or may not) align with the Right to Repair – but is there any information with regard to the software that controls the Aptera and would it ever be open source?
MemberMay 5, 2022 at 2:58 pm
Just a guess on my part. Not open source. A lot of IP in the Aptera software that I am sure they would not want made public and would want complete control of the baseline. A major issue with open source is you lose control of that baseline. In a SW maintenance situation it would be a nightmare for Aptera to deal with all of the branches of “Open source” if others had been working on it to try to fix it or to just “Enhance” functionality. Spaghetti code comes to mind.🤨
MemberMay 5, 2022 at 3:30 pm
While I don’t disagree that while the Aptera is under warranty the
system should be “locked” to external software changes, but as soon as
the warranty is over why would Aptera care what I did to the vehicle at
that point? Honestly, I think its really intriguing to think of some of
the enhancements the community can come up with once Aptera is out in
MemberMay 5, 2022 at 3:48 pm
@Christopher Brisbois Simple answer: Public relations. If you hoon-out the vehicle’s OS and it becomes unreliable or uncontrollable or bursts into flame, YOU won’t be blamed by the “court of public opinion” – the company will.
MemberMay 5, 2022 at 7:17 pm
Just to clarify – nearly all Open Source projects are monitored by a parent company. For example, Microsoft has moved a vast amount of their software to the open source world — anyone can SUGGEST a change (create a new branch per se), but it must undergo a peer-review AND pass all existing tests; and even then, may not be included as a feature in a subsequent production release.
To John Malcom’s point – naturally, some sub-systems may contain Intellectual Property (IP) that a company will not include in the “open” part of the source. However, interesting modifications can be proposed, for example, if someone wanted to develop a different User Interface for various systems or cultures (entertainment, environment, drive / battery monitor, etc.), or develop an algorithm that may enhance power consumption.
I don’t think very many people (myself included), would have the technical know-how and some sort of on-line simulator would probably need to be set-up, which would be a prohibitive cost), but it would be a very unique thing to offer. I am constantly amazed by the talent that exists out there and sometimes someone may suggest something that makes a product that much better. Anyway, it was just a thought.
MemberMay 6, 2022 at 7:56 am
Aptera probably doesn’t own their entire software stack so it may not be possible to open source everything but they could open source their portion and I think it would be a good idea if they did. It’s trivial to determine if the software running on the car has been modified or not. The car is connected to the Internet so Aptera will know if it’s running modified code, if it is they could void the warranty if they wanted to. I could see where people who are interested in racing their cars might want to override the power limits. Doing that would be the equivalent of adding nitrous to an ICE, you would risk blowing up your motors but that’s your problem not the manufacturer’s. People add superchargers, nitrous, modified firmware, to their ICE’s all the time, doing so voids the warranty but there are people who do it anyway.
If they do opensource the software they should put it under the GPL and not the BSD license. GPL forces other companies that modify the software to give those changes back to the community. That’s how Linux works, thousands of companies and people contribute and those changes can be incorporated back into the kernel if Linus thinks they pass muster. BSD allows anybody to fork the code and they have no obligation to give their changes back. Apple uses BSD Linux as the core of the Mac and IOS and they’ve contributed nothing back to the BSD project, or almost nothing.
The other thing that they should do is officially support it in the way that Google supports Android. Google not only provides the source code for base Android, not for their services which sit on top but just the base OS, and they also provide developer tools and a means of loading your own firmware into your phone. The thing that Google doesn’t do but I think Aptera should is have an official repository for third party contributors and a mechanism for submitting patches so that Aptera can take advantage of them in the mainline code. I suspect that the UI might greatly benefit from this approach and maybe even things that are more deeply embedded in the car.
As for the warranty policy. Things that effect the drive train void the warranty, things that don’t shouldn’t. If you chip your engine and it breaks and you take your car back to Dodge they won’t cover the repairs. If you replace the wheels on your car and the engine breaks you are still covered. On the Aptera if you modify the UI and the computer crashes that’s your problem, if the battery fails that’s still would be covered.
MemberMay 6, 2022 at 8:07 am
One more thought about third party patches. If Aptera accepts a patch and move it into the mainstream code they should pay for it and buy the copyright to that code. They need to own or have full rights to all of the code that they use so that in the future if they want to change the license or even close things up they have the right to do so.
MemberMay 6, 2022 at 9:48 am
Aptera is a vehicle manufacturing company not a software company. There is no business case for Aptera to allocate the resources necessary to manage open source software licensing and control. Such an allocation would divert resources from their progress towards engineering and producing more innovative and efficient vehicles for the US and offshore markets. If open source software was a good idea for EV manufacturers the the most successful EV company in the world would be doing it now. Tesla has no open source software.
MemberMay 6, 2022 at 2:20 pm
Tesla doesn’t open source anything because Tesla is Apple only more extreme. They don’t let anyone work on their car except them. They refused to provide any documentation about their cars until they were forced to my Right to Repair laws, just like Apple. Aptera is trying to be the anti-Tesla, they are providing documentation for everything right down to putting bar codes all over the car that will bring up videos explaining how to repair that system. EVs are computers with wheels, the only meaningful modifications of EVs is at the software level. Making the cars hacker friendly is consistent with their right to repair ethos.
MemberMay 6, 2022 at 2:27 pm
There is no business or technical reason for Aptera To open-source software. You site the two most successful producers in their respective domains, Apple and Tesla neither of which do open source yet are some of the highest valued companies in business. Both have exceptional growth rates (Customers really like their products). They grow at a rapid rate inspite of the faults you feel they have.
There is nothing in our business culture that would grant entitlement to “Right to repair” or define what it should be.
Not open sourcing software has nothing to do with Aptera’s ethos of right to repair.
Aptera is not trying to be the anti-Tesla. It is just trying to make the most efficient ground transportation in the world. In fact, Aptera says in the FACs that they believe that Tesla has some of the best EV tech and Aptera hopes to partner with them some day. So even Aptera admires Tesla.
- This reply was modified 1 month, 4 weeks ago by John Malcom. Reason: Restructured
MemberMay 7, 2022 at 6:44 pm
Reading some of the above comments, it becomes clear that some may not understand the whole point of “open source”. For example, just because someone can make a change (create a new branch) does not automatically mean that change will be adopted. Its not like Joe Hacker can press an “Update” button while you are driving your Aptera and you find yourself flying off a cliff! — that would (obviously) be chaos. Any change must be peer reviewed, tested, and then accepted by someone in charge.
Some other use cases for open source might be:
1. Documentation – using Microsoft as an example, their documentation can be edited by anyone — BUT — moderators check / verify any changes before committing those changes to the current (or next) release. In some instances (Google), proposed changes are voted on. This could extend to right to repair videos or documentation with regard to the steps / procedure required to repair a sub-system or replace a part. I tend to agree that it may be prudent to allow feedback once the initial documentation is available, people will suggest improvements over time. If the documentation was open source, suggestions could be incorporated for much less cost.
2. Finding and fixing bugs. Allowing third-parties to REVIEW code helps find errors and in some cases can help improve efficiency by suggesting a new way to tackle a particular problem or algorithm. Again, any proposed changes would be reviewed and tested before appearing in any production vehicle.
I do know from other projects that having many outside eyeballs on code and/or documentation does, in the long run, help reduce errors and clarify sections that may be confusing — this in turn, can help to reduce the load on “support” staff.
It goes without saying that any intellectual property that is deemed sensitive, would not be in the public domain.
It will be interesting to see how Aptera handles the documentation side of things, especially with regard to the right to repair. They may find the open source model will suite them quite well.
Just my two-cents worth.
- This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by Brent D..
MemberMay 9, 2022 at 5:58 pm
I expect there are different software systems in any modern car, control, infotainment, nav etc.
I’ve done some open source development, but I don’t think it would make sense to open source all the control software, i.e. motor, brakes, steering and charging speeds due to safety and liability concerns, that said I would like the ability to be able configure settings within safety margins that Aptera may not feel meets all owners needs.
I would like to see the infotainment software, phone App and APIs be open sourced. As a current BMW i3 owner and part-time contributor to bimmer-connect I learned to hate BMW’s close source mentally. We had to reverse engineer their APIs (more than once), and had no ability to fix their bugs or keep our cars connected after they turned off mobile connectivity on 5 year old cars. I doubt we’ll ever buy BMW again.
MemberMay 9, 2022 at 6:16 pm
I am a strong open source supporter but vehicles are a very unique field with government regulatory hell. Infotainment and core vehicle functions are likely not truly sandboxed from each other (but they should be). Ideally open source changes outside of the core should be allowable without oversight (modifying your own car) and forked secondary source should be possible but this requires very good layering. NHTSA regulations and true open UI likely can never work together. It is very likely even if things are open source it will be lip service since code signing would block actual usage and external changes wouldn’t be encouraged.
The likely result of these MIH consortium open standards is simply defined open interfaces which allows choice of different vendors proprietary implementations. This allows more modular approach to putting together viable vehicles and will result in more licensed implementations of software/hardware components without reinventing the wheel. This makes for more commoditization which is generally good for consumers.
Do any other auto makers truly open source their full software stack in a modern vehicle and allow custom changes; I doubt it. Aptera is a huge change for the industry but expectations need to be realistic. If they try to reinvent everything nothing will ever ship and/or safety organizations will make actually shipping impossible.
MemberMay 9, 2022 at 7:57 pm
Agreed — perhaps the most innovative thing might be to open source documentation with regard to any user (operating) manuals and repair guides — the community could help keep such reference material up-to-date and (almost) free of errors.
MemberJune 8, 2022 at 2:54 pm
I’d just like to add my two cents and say that Android Automotive OS would give Aptera a huge leg-up in the in-car user interface department, and allow for external devs like myself to support the car with apps from available on the Google Play Store, and that software and app compatibility is something that I’ve found to be highly desireable among consumers. Sometimes just telling someone that their preferred music platform of choice is available in a certain car is enough to convince an on-the-fence consumer, and any such software hesitancies would be solved by adopting Android Automotive OS.
MemberJune 10, 2022 at 6:50 am
I agree, it is definitely worthwhile to use the momentum that android offers for entertainment and ‘user domain’ purposes. But then you also have to consider the work involved in keeping your system up to date. So maybe using an existing high quality tablet and integrating it with the aptera by developing an app for it is a better and more future-proof concept. That way, 1. the base for operating the vehicle with a set of controllers is generally separated from the observation and entertainment part. Vehicle data can still be used by viewing the data through the app. And also control can be allowed for certain aspects. 2. For future tasks such as autonomous driving you also need a powerful device that needs to perform independently from entertainment, so this should be a separate entity, too. This allows for modular design and good upgradeability but also relatively low cost and in-house software maintenance.
In this constellation, part of at least the interface could be made public to allow for user content to be generated inside the Android software app environment.
MemberJune 10, 2022 at 7:12 am
Your comments are not those of a software or systems engineer but of an interest enthusiast?
The Aptera engineers have done a great job of architecting the HW/SW to optimize performance and provide sufficient processing for all planned and future possible functions while controlling costs and ensuring availability of components.
Most if not all of the Aptera SW will remain proprietary as that is intellectual property that Aptera would want to keep a possible competitor from having access to.
Remember their ethos is efficiency with a secondary goal of building a lifetime vehicle. So no worries.😄
- This reply was modified 3 weeks, 2 days ago by Jonah Jorgenson. Reason: update content
MemberJune 10, 2022 at 7:31 am
This is true. Android automotive OS is probably not the way to go I think. That is why I proposed to use an exising tablet with Android (non-automotive) to supply the entertainment part and an Aptera-App to supply the connectivity to the Aptera vehicle itself that operates on separate hardware/software. System updates can be taken from the Tablet manufacturer and app updates can be issued according to necessity.
Also, when your aptera boots and connects to the tablet, you can automatically launch the Aptera-App.
- This reply was modified 3 weeks, 2 days ago by Uwe Kall.
MemberJune 10, 2022 at 7:04 am
Android Automotive OS is not a good fit for Aptera. The effort to interface Android Automotive OS to support Aptera control would cost more in time, money and resources than any advantage gained. Aptera has custom software for a reason – efficiency of control for the architecture. Also the software is finished except for testing and defect remediation.
Android automotive OS was architected for legacy ICE vehicle integration. Some manufacturers are using it in their newer vehicles.
None of the many EV manufacturers to include the leading manufacturer, Tesla, uses Android Automotive OS. That should be an indication that it is not suitable for EVs
- This reply was modified 3 weeks, 2 days ago by Jonah Jorgenson. Reason: corrected spelling
MemberJune 10, 2022 at 7:36 am
The systems/software architect in me (electrical engineer working in simulation/automotive/industrial embedded for over 20years) fully agrees in this (see post above) 🤓
MemberJune 10, 2022 at 10:57 am
Good to see a very domain qualified and very experienced architect’s views. I think validates Aptera engineering direction and my thoughts as a far less experienced practitioner. Thanks for your “Hindsight – 20/20” observations/wisdom. Good education for a youngin.