Electronics and Semiconductors

BlackBerry to Open Autonomous Driving Facility

19 December 2016

As the smartphone market begins to wane in shipments (and thereby revenues), mobile device manufacturers are looking for a new way to garner future business. For Apple and Google, that means turning to autonomous driving.

Apple reportedly has backed away from developing its own electric vehicle (EV) in favor of creating autonomous driving technology that it will sell to third-party car manufacturers. Google has been developing and testing an autonomous car fleet since 2009, and it recently spun out this service and its projects into a new company called Waymo.

Now BlackBerry is getting into the mix, announcing it will open an Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Centre (AVIC) at its QNX facility in Ottawa, Ontario. BlackBerry says AVIC will work to develop connected and self-driving vehicles by developing production-ready software independently and in collaboration with partners in the private and public sector.

The company will recruit and hire local software engineers to work on these autonomous car projects. The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario recently approved BlackBerry to test autonomous vehicles on Ontario’s roads as part of its pilot program. The first part of the program will involve working with Renesas Electronics, PolySync and the University of Waterloo to build a self-driving concept car.

“Autonomous vehicles require software that is extremely sophisticated and highly secure,” says John Chen, chairman and CEO of BlackBerry. “Our innovation track record in mobile security and our demonstrated leadership in automotive software make us ideally suited to dominate the market for embedded intelligence in the cars of the future.”

BlackBerry has already cut its teeth in the automotive market with millions of telematics-equipped cars on the road using BlackBerry’s Certicom security technology for communication authentication. It also provides infotainment, acoustics, telematics and digital instrument clusters to car manufacturers.

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com

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