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Tackling fragmentation with a standard vehicle information API

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tina Jeffrey
Has it been a year already? In February 2013 QNX Software Systems became a contributing member of the W3C’s Automotive Web Platform Business Group, which is dedicated to accelerating the adoption of Web technologies in the auto industry. Though it took a while to rev up, the group is now in full gear and we’re making excellent progress towards our first goal of defining a vehicle information API for passenger vehicles.

The plan is to establish a standard API for accessing speed, RPM, tire pressure, and other vehicle data. The API will enable consistent app development across automakers and thereby reduce the fragmentation that affects in-vehicle infotainment systems. Developers will be able to use the API for apps running directly on the head unit as well as for apps running on mobile devices connected to the head unit.

Parallel processing
Let me walk you through our work to date. To get started, we examined API specifications from four member organizations: QNX, Webinos, Intel, and GENIVI. Next, we collected a superset of the attributes from each spec and categorized each attribute into one of several functional groups: vehicle information, running status, maintenance, personalization, driving safety, climate/environment, vision systems, parking, and electric vehicles. Then, we divvied up these functional groups among teams who worked in parallel: each team drafted an initial API for their allotted functional group before sharing it with the members at large.

Throughout this effort, we documented a set of API creation guidelines to capture the intent and reasoning behind our decisions. These guidelines cover details such as data representation, attribute value ranges and increments, attribute naming, and use of callback functions. The guidelines also capture the rules that govern how to grow or extend the APIs, if and when necessary.

Driving towards closure
In December the business group editors began to pull the initial contributions into a single draft proposal. This work is progressing and will culminate in a member’s face-to-face meeting mid-March in Santa Clara, California, where we will review the draft proposal in its entirety and drive this first initiative towards closure.

I’m sure there will be lots more to talk about, including next potential areas of focus for the group. If you're interested in following our progress, here’s a link to the draft API.

Enjoy!

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