Daimler: Our developers know about the advantages of Open Source Software

Vlado Koljibabic is Head of CASE IT at Daimler AG, the parent company of the car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz. He aims to strengthen the idea of Open Source in his company. Daimler is a partner of FOSSASIA. Torben Stephan interviewed Koljibabic on the advantages of open source software.

Stephan: What does CASE stand for?

Koljibabic: CASE is the combination of everything disruptive regarding our business: Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Services and Electric. These topics shall help us to transform from a car manufacturer to a mobility services provider. This is key in order to remain successful in the future.

How much Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is actually part of a Mercedes?

We have been using FOSS for many years. Any Mercedes-Benz comes with a CD full of FOSS licenses. Every license belongs to a piece of open source software which is implemented in our cars. Even our Mercedes me app contains seven OS licenses. We use it because our developers know about the advantages of OSS.

Which are?

We don’t need to develop everything from scratch, we can reuse things where it makes sense and contribute to the development of open standards that increase efficiency throughout the system.

Daimler is a member of the “Automotive Grade Linux” (AGL) initiative initiated by the Linux Foundation. Isn’t that the right place for such open standards?

Absolutely. During FOSSASIA, with the community, we discussed the opportunity of defining an open standard for electric vehicle charging stations. From my point of view it definitely does make sense to develop this via the AGL. On the other hand Daimler might put even more commitment into this project to show we seriously want to be part of this.

Vlado Koljibabic CASE IT Daimler
Vlado Koljibabic CASE IT Daimler

What’s the advantage of open source software compared to proprietary?

Two things: Nobel Prize laureate John Nash showed that sharing of commodities brings advantages to all players in the market. For me this is the secret of the success of open source software. Beside this we can use existing software solutions for recurring processes. And the car industry is full of recurring processes. If there is no ready-to-use solution, we can initiate and design the processes and contribute to the community.

How do other business units within Daimler respond to this ideas?

For a company like Daimler these are huge changes. That’s why we do this step-by-step. First of all we convince our internal stakeholders of the reasonableness and the value of FOSS. As a following step we accelerate the topic within concrete projects. The overall process of enhancement of OSS usage is initiated and strategically supported. Jan Brecht the CIO of the Daimler AG drives and promotes the initiative essentially.

In which fields would you refrain from publishing your source code?

For example in highly sensitive areas in terms of competition. One example is Autonomous Driving – I would not be the first to focus on open source when it comes to this topic right now. But I’m sure that within the next years, there will be a deck of open source tools for Autonomous Driving, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence everyone can use.

Daimler uses a lot of open source. But what are you giving back to the community?

We are a member of the Linux Foundation and partner here at FOSSASIA. However, we don’t contribute source code yet in the context of open source projects. But we see the demand of the community and are working on it continuously to contribute as soon as possible.