Renault has partnered with OSVehicle to create POM, a new electric vehicle (EV), open source and available for customisation by start-ups, independent labs, private customers and researchers. Modifications to the design of the software and driving experience will be encouraged to a vehicle, which is based on Renault’s popular Twizy model, and aims to spark innovation in the development of vehicles that meet 21st century mobility needs and appeal across a diverse range of demographics. The announcement is significant, both in terms of the application of open source by one of the world’s largest car manufacturers, and the potential innovation impact on EVs.  

Providing a modular open source car platform, OSVehicle collaborates with entrepreneurs, coders, designers and engineers through open source software, hardware and experience designs, with the objective of moving towards multiple high performance and economically viable EVs.  

Adding the experience of Renault, one of Europe’s largest automotive companies, is a significant boost to OSVehicle’s growing open ecosystem. The collaboration opens up the hardware and software of Renault’s Twizy architecture to new features and adjustments, partly through the support and inclusion of ARM, a leader in microprocessor Intellectual Property on the open-source vehicle platform, who provide design technology powering more than 80% of mobile computing devices.

Open source is a modern approach to technology, design and innovation that encourages cross-discipline collaborations and aims to create a space where designers, coders, entrepreneurs and engineers can build on each other’s work to enable disruptive and effective solutions. It has the potential to “disrupt industry significantly lowering costs and time-to-market”, according to OSVehicle founders Tin Hang and Yuki Liu, and if adopted on a large scale, it could represent a critical shift in the kinds of designing, coding and creating that enables the system-wide transformations, including the transition to a more restorative and regenerative economy.


Credit: OSVehicle

For an in-depth perspective on the links between circular economy and open source, we highly recommend reading this article by Sam Muirhead, a member of the Open Source Circular Economy days team, published on Circulate in 2016. See the extract below for a taster:

In practice, open source means publishing how things are made, such as a recipe, software code, production data, or design files so that anyone can study, use, and build upon this information. This often occurs through decentralised and distributed online collaboration: diverse groups discussing project ideas, giving feedback, fixing bugs, prototyping solutions and building useful, customisable software, hardware, tools and culture.

It’s interesting to compare the guidelines and best practices for developing a circular economy with those of the open source world, you’ll see many similarities – practical requirements for transparency, repairability, modularity, long-term perspectives, open standards…”

He goes further to describe the argument for businesses to adopt open source approaches as they develop new products and services fit for the modern economy:

“In order to develop solutions to fit a diverse range of problems and opportunities, this kind of genetic mutation is not just desired, it’s necessary. It’s evolution. In the digital world, the open source approach is now well established and successful part of business. In the server market, Microsoft has been soundly beaten by open source, thanks to multi-party collaboration and investment on the GNU/Linux operating system. Now Linux dominates not just servers, but also supercomputers, mobile and embedded devices. Every major player in tech is using open source to achieve their goals in some way – even the old holdouts seem to have come around.”

For Renault the announcement fits into a wider vision, where open innovation aids the development of mobility and the cars of the future. Once restricted to the world of coding and digital technology, this collaboration signals that the business applications of open source are beginning to expand in a bigger way into new engineering and hardware domains supported by a broader digitisation occurring throughout the global economy.

Further information, including on how to get involved can be found here.

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