Freedom EV: free/open replacement firmware for your electric vehicle -- including a Tesla


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/02/11/pwn-to-own.html


#2

Yeah… The big guys don’t even get it right… And I’m going to put code into my car made people who work by “move fast and break things”. That’s Elon Musk style insane.


#3

Interesting.
Installing it would probably void insurance & (legal) road worthiness, though.


#4

I assume if you can do this, you can change the odometer as well.


#5

Who wouldn’t want to brick their six figure vehicle?


#6

We’ve maybe over-thinked this entire situation.

I put gas in the tank and turn the key, it goes. Root access to my car is a brick through the window.


#7

Antifeature, my foot. The battery alone is worth five figures, and keeping it from being fully discharged is good engineering, intended to keep it healthy. Screw with that, and your car will suffer.


#8

Quite so. In fact, if you COULD safely drain it dry, they’d damn well want you to, as a sales feature =o. There’s literally zero incentive to “rip off” anyone over maintenance charge in a lithium battery.


#9

Wow, two of my hobby horses combined in one.


#10

I am always in favor for open source hardware and software, though i’m not sure how comfortable i would be with messing with a car’s system like that. Also lets say an electric car derped and caused an accident, or burst into flames… the manufacturer would be at fault. If someone changed the software to be open source i would think that the owner would be deemed at fault.


#11

And void the warranty on something that costs over 50k. And probably Tesla would refuse to do any repairs on it. I would only do this on my extra Tesla that I don’t need and I don’t care if it gets bricked.
I think it would be really great to have a fully open source stack for electric vehicles and I’m happy they are working on it. Long term it would need to be based on an open source design, too, so there would be parts and repair availability. Harley motorcycles and AR15s are the closest thing I can think of, where it’s a platform that has a wide range of suppliers for every part of it. You can buy complete Harley engines, frames, etc that don’t have any Harley parts. You could build a complete fully functional Harley motorcycle without Harley parts. Of course an electric vehicle is a far more complex and ambitious piece of equipment.


#12

is there seriously a single level computer control over steering and acceleration?

it’s not done by separate micro-controllers each with their own firmware and cpu?

what happens when a tesla cpu does the equal of a bluescreen or hard lockup?

anyways there’s a reason why I drive the last year model of a car with mechanical steering and mechanical accelerator, even with their flaws it seems more sane


#13

Well, that’s the (potentially literally) burning question. The software for embedded systems can be engineered for safety like anything else – it can’t be made foolproof, any more than a belt or rod can be made immune to breaking – but firmware can be rigorously tested, its failure modes can be exhaustively planned, you can use voting logic and watchdog timers etc. But that’s a very different discipline to putting Linux on an Amazon Echo, even if the toolchain is the same.

I assume / hope that anyone who’s writing FOSS firmware for a Tesla’s power steering or battery charging knows what they’re doing and is being responsible about it. But I would also not be at all surprised if there end up being forked versions where someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing has made dangerous changes. Like, they’ve managed to change a parameter so you can get eXtreme acceleration, except the car becomes prone to flipping over on corners, and the batteries now catch fire if you hold down the “gas” pedal too long.

The world of open-source is bad at protecting you from the latter sort of thing, since the whole point is the lack of a central authority deciding (let alone enforcing) the “right” software. And the other thing is legal liability; if I came up with software that would double the range of people’s cars, I would be extremely reluctant to publish it myself in case I ended up as the defendant in every subsequent lawsuit that would otherwise have targeted Tesla.

IMO the upshot of all this is that what you really want is for Tesla to make their own software open-source, and if you want to install anything other than their approved system, you have to spend hours physically setting jumpers and clicking through warnings telling you to seek psychiatric help. But that would still let competent engineers publish fixes and improvements, and Tesla would be under pressure to implement those, and they couldn’t conceal bullshit DRM and security flaws and so on.


closed #14

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