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New Zealand Developers Building Open Source Code For Electric Cars

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the free-and-open-source-wheelin' dept.

Transportation 45

MatthewVD writes "New Zealand electric racecar developer Greenstage is close to finishing an open source project called 'Tumanako,' which would allow owners of electric cars and motorcycles to tweak the code in their vehicles. Electric vehicle gearheads grouse about proprietary code that keeps current, torque and speed within very conservative limits. 'In racing, you need the system to push all those parameters to the limits. You only need the system to survive until just past the finish line,' says Bill Dube, the owner of the record-setting KillaCycle. Open source code could also be used to build any type of electric vehicle, from cars and submarines to motor-launched aerial gliders, from scratch. It's like Linux for your Chevy Volt."

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45 comments

Good on ya! (0)

Camel Racer (134168) | about 2 years ago | (#39640671)

Good on ya mates!

Re:Good on ya! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642567)

It's bro ... Good one bro (pronounced br-ew) ..

Such as with pen (pin) Ben (bin) six (sex). In NZ it's also legal to molest sheep.

An amazing success (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39640761)

Congratulations guys !

Now I can overclock my electric car.

It now goes from 0 to 100 in just over 48 seconds. Degrees Celcius that is.

couple things (3, Interesting)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#39640817)

1) I dont have a chevy volt, I bought a 40mpg Kia 2 years before the tax credits, and cash for clunkers were announced, and a little bitter that I did the right thing and got fuck all nothing for it.

2) I dont want to sound too assie, but how many gearheads are computer / electronic nerds? This may well be the future for more professional setups, but when you have local racer Johnny brazing spade terminals for a simple toggle switch with a blow torch looking at written instructions at the drag strip I dunno, seems ripe for people to come in, take the fruits of your labor, slap it on a 1$ rom and sell it as a 299$ speed chip.

Re:couple things (3, Interesting)

eggfoolr (999317) | about 2 years ago | (#39640947)

Me, me! I'm a gear head and an electronics nerd.

I work in IT and race a Mazda RX7 on the weekends. I rebuilt and modified the motor and programmed the ECU! I've been wanting to build an electric race car like this for years and now I can get a head start with this project. Fantastic!

Re:couple things (1)

Formalin (1945560) | about 2 years ago | (#39641079)

The knack.
It's a rare condition characterized by an extreme intuition about all things mechanical and electrical... and utter social ineptitude.

I know a few others with this diagnosis. varying amounts of all three, of course.

Re:couple things (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#39642735)

I dont want to sound too assie, but how many gearheads are computer / electronic nerds?

I'd say about 2/3rds. EFI's been around for a long time and now there's fucking CANbus, you pretty much have to deal with computers to be a gearhead (whether the situation calls for it or not).

Also, "Linux for you Chevy Volt?" Really? More like Megasquirt for your Nissan Leaf.

Re:couple things (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#39645963)

I dunno, seems ripe for people to come in, take the fruits of your labor, slap it on a 1$ rom and sell it as a 299$ speed chip.

Damn dude....why did you have to broadcast my new business plan like that?!?!?!

Re:couple things (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#39647161)

Have you seen the tech in an F1 racer these days? It takes a while, but that does slowly trickle down. Soon enough, dirt track racers will have a software specialist on the team.

Re:couple things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39650651)

I was thinking if someone were to take this project as the basis for an electric car and integrate google's self-navigating system with it you would have the makings of a new opensource industry. Granted Google's nav system isn't opened sourced but still it would be quite a pair.

Re:couple things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39684335)

Couple things and then what? Coupling them usually makes them work together, but what things are we coupling?

Just don't let... (2)

Zapotek (1032314) | about 2 years ago | (#39640829)

...people named Keith download it and flash their car. (Top Gear reference, in case you're wondering)

Killer cycle, eh? (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#39640831)

Killacycle? That's certainly an amusing name. You know what they call motorcycles at my Mom's hospital? Donorcycles. As in, young men ride them dangerously, are severely injured, and arrive at the hospital with a fresh supply of healthy, low-mileage organs. Asking a gearhead to tamper with software sounds like a great recipe for a new crop. After all, only one person dies, but the organs enable many people to live. It's win-win!

Interesting Idea (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39640889)

200kW Inverters, Battery Management Systems, and chargers are all high price items right now. I'm curious to see where this goes. It's an ambitious undertaking but it could be done with the right people working on the project.

Electric != Autonomous (5, Insightful)

robwgibbons (1455507) | about 2 years ago | (#39640903)

I had a weird mixed reaction to this, before I remembered what "electric car" actually means. Open-source electric cars are a great idea. However, if this were to be extended to autonomous cars I would begin to get worried. Allowing people the ability to modify the software controlling their autonomous vehicle seems to me an inherently bad idea.

Re:Electric != Autonomous (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39641605)

An electric car is about a ton of metal that moves in public under only loose control of its driver. It's not quite autonomous, but, for the most part, the only thing that makes it slow down and stop on demand is the software, which is designed and tested to ensure that bad things don't happen. Can you say the same of the latest source release you downloaded from the internet? .. And if it isn't?

Put another way: It's illegal for people to drive on public roads without being qualified. Why would you let unqualified software control a car in public?

Re:Electric != Autonomous (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#39646025)

Why would you let unqualified software control a car in public?

Because, you can do it today...you are free to do anything you want with your car's system computers...and many cars are already pretty much drive by wire.

The only difference between now and your question, is the engine (internal combustion vs electric).

Re:Electric != Autonomous (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39641615)

Amen, brother!!

I said the same thing when a thing called "Linux" was created and nobody believed me. And now we have Android!!

Re:Electric != Autonomous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39641933)

Umm, how is this any different from linux which exist in so many important things? Being open sourced doesn't mean accepting any and every patch you get... Only that you may get patches that you may or may not include. You only include patches from people you know/trust and heavily review important patches from unknown people or not at all. At the very least, the project can be pointed to faulty/buggy code specifically if the sourced is open even if they don't accept any outside code. The counter to having a too tightly controlled project is the ability to fork, though forking isn't so simple.

If anything, an open source version of both electric and autonomous would be a great thing, as it would allow for faster code review and accreditation to ensure safety. Instead of reviewing so many implementations, more eyes and time can be spent on one implementation making it easier to spot mistakes.

If anything, i would deem this very important to have. If anything does go wrong, the company can't hide if it's a software mistake or not. It brings everything out into the open.

Re:Electric != Autonomous (1)

shippers (1100005) | about 2 years ago | (#39642161)

Umm, how is this any different from linux which exist in so many important things?....

The big difference here is that if something were to go wrong with your desktop / smartphone / tablet then people tend not to be seriously injured as a result. All it would take is for a stray pointer to screw with some RAM used to calculate PWM or inverter output frequencies and you've got real potential to lock the drive wheels in an instant. Anyone who has put DC current through an AC motor will know how much braking torque it can develop. And that's not the kind of thing you want to happen, without warning, when tanking down the highway on your bike at 70mph.

And if things do go wrong? Well, I suppose being able to lay blame on a particular company or organisation would be scant consolation for someone who has lost the use of their lower body.

ArcticCore (2)

jd (1658) | about 2 years ago | (#39641027)

Is the gas engine equivalent. It'll be interesting to see if/when anyone actually uses either project, versus the software merely being there. The world doesn't operate according to Field of Dreams, building it means nothing. What matters is not what is there, but what people find useful.

Re:ArcticCore (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39641625)

[Arctic Core] Is the gas engine equivalent. It'll be interesting to see if/when anyone actually uses either project, versus the software merely being there..

Arctic Core is being used in several University projects around the world (with main focus on scheduling, multicore and diagnostics; have a swift look on Google Scholar for a couple of them). Its commercially licensed branch is already being used in some commercial ECUs in actual commercial vehicles, and several ECUs are in testing. Although far from all of the AUTOSAR standard is covered to date, the most important parts are, and has been proven useful and stable.

As you might imagine, the automotive world is very keen on its secrets, which is why details on who uses what are often hard to find. Also, the big players of course do not want to use the GPL as this has virous infections on trade-secret software for the thousands of functions hidden inside the vehicles.

What is the relevance? (2)

udippel (562132) | about 2 years ago | (#39641033)

... of an article of 2009 on April 11, 2012?
I mean, technically.

Re:What is the relevance? (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#39641217)

... of an article of 2009 on April 11, 2012? I mean, technically.

Some things need gestation time? Some things are cool ideas out of the box, but what's its application? I've worked with startups that had cool ideas, but no real plan as to what to do with it or how to sell it once done. Who's the eventual target market?

"Uhh, ... But it's cool, yes?"

Not good enough. In this case, I see 1st day Redhat admins hypermodding their cars which end up slamming into bridge abutments.

Re:What is the relevance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39641307)

"Not good enough. In this case, I see 1st day Redhat admins hypermodding their cars which end up slamming into bridge abutments."

So obviously their target market is Microsoft.

Re:What is the relevance? (1)

docilespelunker (1883198) | about 2 years ago | (#39641489)

Indeed, it's all very nice having some software, but it'll nail you to a particular set of hardware - and that's now 3 years out of date...

Dumb Joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39641127)

It's like Linux for your Chevy Volt.

In that, nobody uses either. Zing!
 
*ducks*

Grouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39641355)

Just a quick point:
I'm not 100% sure about the Kiwis, but here in Australia, grouse has a completely different meaning. [urbandictionary.com]

Re:Grouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39641757)

Kiwi here...i too wondered wtf the article was on about. To me 'grouse' *is* an Australian term...but then there are many different dialects of slang here so who knows?

NZ strikes again as the land of innovation ;o) One of our fellas nearly beat the Wright Bros, bro!

silent danger (1)

Max_W (812974) | about 2 years ago | (#39641901)

Once I was almost hit by a silent electric motorcycle, which was speeding on a cycling path in a city at about 70 km/h, completely silent.

Re:silent danger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39645307)

Once I was almost raped. (I was in the same room with a guy, and I'm pretty sure he had a penis.)

Maybe almost doesn't count for everything?

Mario is slowing down! (1)

FairAndHateful (2522378) | about 2 years ago | (#39642151)

You only need the system to survive until just past the finish line,' says Bill Dube

While this is, in a race, true, it is a limit that a lot of race teams have bounced against and lost. Also, while I think most people receive value from what is learned in races, but they want their daily driver to have a little more longevity. Hopefully there's still enough pep to let the thing merge in traffic.

Not "new". (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642467)

This is not "new" - it was reasonably common for NZ engineering students friends of mine to tweak the chips in the cars, 10 years ago. Granted it wasn't open source or terribly legal but it was quite common nonetheless. A couple of them actually made businesses out of it.

Just another process crash? (1)

seniorcoder (586717) | about 2 years ago | (#39642829)

"I'm going to rebuild the car kernel and take her out for a spin" Sentences like this can give a more literal meaning to the crash and burn of a process. I suppose they take the injured driver to a hospital with his core dump. Who guarantees there was even adequate unit testing done before a car goes out onto the highway with other unsuspecting drivers? Then again, I suppose its the same answer as to when I added the airbag suspension to my low-rider without getting my car re-inspected.

Open Source is Everywhere in User Built EVs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39643123)

Open Source hardware and software is all over the place in EV builds.

There's the "OpenRevolt" (http://www.paulandsabrinasevstuff.com/evmotorcontrollers.html) open source hardware and software electric motor controller. There's an open source hardware/software 10kW charger (http://www.emotorwerks.com/cgi-bin/VMcharger.pl). There are a wide choice of open source battery monitoring systems.

I'm not sure why this is (3 year old) news.

DIY EV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39643553)

Just build your own car and you can have all that today. People have been doing open source motor controllers for years (see Open ReVolt for a polished example). You can code it up however you want. There's really not that much to tweak because electrics are so simple to begin with.

Chevy Volt is linux already (1)

DCFusor (1763438) | about 2 years ago | (#39646061)

And they've posted some changes to comply with GPL. Not bad, guys. I love my Volt, it's a cool car, and I charge it with off-grid solar. It might not fly, but hey, I'll take this over the George Jetson car, because I can actually have this.
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