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Tesla publishes Autopilot source code to comply with the GPL

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Tesla uses open source platforms for some of the technologies in its electric cars, but they have never published the code before. Linux and BusyBox are some of the platforms they use, and one of the company's obligations, according to the GPL license, is precisely what they have just fulfilled: publishing part of the source code that is used for their electric propulsion vehicles. That ‘part’ is the one corresponding to the automatic pilot system –the imaging system-, that of NVIDIA Tegra and that of the AutoPilot motherboards.

One of the sections of the GNU GPL, the license for open source software used by Tesla, provides for an obligation to share source code. The company chaired by Elon Musk, after some time using this software, has made public part of the open-source source code. The one that uses the AutoPilot imaging system, that of the motherboard of the same autonomous driving technology, and that of the NVIDIA Tegra system that its electric cars also have. All this is already available on GitHub, in the profile that the American company has.

Tesla publishes the open-source source code of its electric cars, does this pose any risk to your technology?

The source code published by Tesla corresponds only to some ‘parts’ of the technology that its electric cars have, both the Tesla Model X and the S and 3. And more specifically, the majority of the automatic piloting system. This is in no way a risk to owners of Tesla vehicles. It is not a risk that opens the doors for hackers to attack the autonomous driving system of their cars, which would be the most worrying thing, and in no case can they put the company's intellectual property at risk. Quite simply, it has allowed them to comply with the GNU GPL licenses.

And all this means that the 'core parts' of AutoPilot-related code that have been published can be studied and analyzed, and in a way could be applied in other projects. But not in the same way, and not for commercial purposes.
It is not a secret that part of the technologies of the Tesla Model S and Model X, including the famous Autopilot, is based on the Linux and BusyBox platforms. An open-source system that is subject to the GPL license, which forces the Californian firm to publish a part of the source code, something that it had not done until now in relation to the software of the Model S and Model X 2018.12. This code includes the configuration of the Tesla Autopilot system, the motherboard, and the NVIDIA Tegra system.

One of the sections of the GPL license that regulates the license of open source software that Tesla uses contemplates that the brand must share the source code and make it public, in this case on the company's profile on GitHub. In this way, any user can access and see the code that regulates the Autopilot image system, that of the motherboard that regulates autonomous driving, and the NVIDIA Tegra system that serves to give life to the infotainment system of the American brand.

In fact, Tesla has issued a statement regarding this movement in which it explains that it intends to release more parts of its open-source in the near future, all in collaboration with the Software Freedom Conservancy -SFC-, a non-profit organization that preserves and provides infrastructure for free and open-source software projects, as well as ensuring that it is in the public domain. In this regard, Tesla has been working with SFC since 2013, since the first Model S already had technology based on Linux and BusyBox.

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