Thursday, June 25, 2009

Open-source will win the race for driverless cars

This project seems a bit crazy. Let's imagine the scene: you sit down on your car, tell your GPS where you want to go and close your eyes for a little nap, the car will wake you up when parked next to your destination.

But this is not science fiction: prototypes exist and big companies are working hard on this problem which will probably be the next revolution for the car industry (before oil-shortage).

Indeed, as my boss Keith Curtis often states, it's a purely algorithmic problem since all the required hardware are webcam, GPS and (eventually) lasers detectors. Cheap stuffs that we can find everywhere.

So, the first who succeeds in writing the software wins! (and probably he will win a lot!)

That's our project, we're trying to be the first to have this software working. It seems ambitious for a team of two programmers fighting against Goliaths of the car industry, but we have a secret weapon: it's called open-source!

We are initiating a project where everybody can participate. The first step is to have a car simulator and a virtual town to drive into, then we can start experimenting algorithms on a computer (instead of crashing few cars in the process).

We're informing scientists from AI laboratories, computer vision experts and trying to reach any other interested persons so this platform becomes a base for community driven development. It's a hard task, but it's the key to success.

So if you are talented and you think you can help, you are very welcome! The project is fun and we promise you'll be given back as much as you participate.

Here are some links:
- Keith Curtis' view of the project
- Launchpad project.
- Our wiki

Friday, June 12, 2009

Little contribution to the Mono/C# debate

I just got through this article which explains why "anti-mono" peoples are just stupid people, none of them even developers for the open-source community, so I wanted to add my unnecessary contribution to the Mono/C# debate.

I was first wondering where does the "anti-mono are not open-source developers" statement comes from? I am an active open-source developer and most other anti-mono people I know are too.

Anyway, I agree there is a lot of "mono is evil" vs. "mono is so cool" debates without real value, but there is at least one very strong argument against Mono, which is the most important to my little green eyes.

C# specification is driven by Microsoft, the open-source community is follower and not leader. Sure this was once true for C and using C didn't created such debate, but then you had no equivalent, open and widely recognized alternatives.

Maybe you're now asking yourself: "Why is this a problem? Why a language with an open community-driven specification is better?". Then I think you lost the point about the open-software model.

Let me go into little details.

Developers of open languages are free to create the features they like, Mono have no choice but follow Microsoft's implementation. Python's enhancement proposals is a great example of how open specification work. Everybody can write down ideas of enhancements for the language, the ideas are reviewed and discussed by the community, good ideas are accepted and will eventually go into next version of the language... This is open-source. And Mono can't do that.

Ok, I should add that my current open-source project is in written C# (not my choice unfortunately). So, please, do what I say and not what I do! If you really like open-source, I recommend you choose an open language.