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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Some AV developers are opening source code for their technology, a strategy they can use to collect data and tech from anyone using their code, and which could help bring products to market faster.

Why it matters: Open source providers are experimenting with how much of their technology to share, while protecting their intellectual property to stay competitive. Their decisions will have lasting implications for how AV technology develops.

What's happening: When companies designate source code as open, they typically require users to enter into a license in exchange for royalty-free access to the user’s technology or data. In the AV industry, that can be particularly valuable because of how much data is needed to teach a car how to drive using AI.

  • The visualization software used by GM Cruise and Uber — Worldview and Autonomous Visualization System, respectively — are both open source.
  • Baidu has opened its Apollo self-driving software platform for perceiving obstacles, planning routes and driving AVs.
  • Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler Continental, Jaguar Land Rover, Nvidia, Intel, Bosch, Udelv, Byton, Velodyne and others have joined Baidu’s Apollo open source consortium.

Between the lines: Beyond collecting and monetizing data, source code providers could profit from offering technical support for the software or bundling proprietary applications, like software used for the driver interface. 

  • They may also benefit if users contribute to developing their technology and it comes to market sooner.
  • If one company's open source code is so popular it becomes industry standard, it could offer a new revenue stream.

Yes, but: Closed source ownership of proprietary AV technology is still the dominant model in the AV world. For example, GM Cruise and Uber made only some of their AV tech stack open source, not their core AI.

  • Even companies that use open source code typically create their own proprietary add-ons to differentiate their AV tech stack or monetize their contribution.

What we're watching: It remains to be seen if OEMs and AV companies will continue to protect their most valuable technology through trade secrets, patents or other intellectual property protections — or if they will open that source code as well.

Jim Cleland is co-chair of Brinks Gilson & Lione’s automotive group.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”