Android developers might be able to get their hands on the dev tools for Google's car-integrated OS, as the company is working on Android Automotive Emulator. The tools will be integrated into the Android SDK and allow anyone with the knowledge of software development to develop and test the apps for the system that Google is looking forward on implementing in vehicles. Found by savvy developers from the XDA Developers forum, the tags in the updated source code suggest the emulator should arrive along "Android Oreo Maintenance Release 1" which most likely alludes at Android 8.1, an updated version of the current OS that has yet to be announced.
Earlier this year, Google partnered with Panasonic to build an in-vehicle system for Chrysler that runs on Android Automotive. The company has been teasing its entry into the automotive industry for over two years now, culminating with the announcement of Android Auto and, later, Android Automotive. The functions of these two platforms sound rather similar, but they're much different on the fundamental level and how they'll interconnect with user's devices and car. While Android Auto is just a connection between Android device and an Auto-enabled vehicle, Android Automotive is a fully integrated system. That means, the cars are "running on Android", that is the highly secured and tightly developed version of the OS that isn't directly available to the end user, but sold to the car companies that are looking for more modern automation and control systems for their vehicles. With Android Automotive, both companies and customers can customize the functions of the cars with many apps available via Google Play and turning the car's computer into both an information and entertainment system for the passengers.
Google is still keeping Android Automotive under the radar, but these recent updates suggest there won't be long before the tools are in the hands of developers. Also, including an emulator into the Android SDK is a safer method for experimenting with many functions Automotive-enabled cars will have without developers having to own one of these cars just to test their apps, especially since these vehicles are yet to be seen in the streets.