After shifting its focus away from manufacturing smartphones, BlackBerry announced yesterday that it is putting its driverless automobile research into high gear with the establishment of an innovation centre.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined BlackBerry CEO John Chen in the unveiling of the BlackBerry QNX Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Centre (AVIC) in the BlackBerry QNX facility in Ottawa. As part of this initiative, the technology company will be hiring local software engineers to work on ongoing and emerging engineering projects connected to driverless vehicles.
The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario recently approved BlackBerry QNX to test autonomous vehicles on Ontario roads as part of a pilot program. One of the centre’s first projects will be supporting this pilot as well as BlackBerry QNX’s work with the University of Waterloo, PolySync, and Renesas Electronics to build an autonomous concept vehicle.
“With the opening of its innovation centre in Ottawa, BlackBerry is helping to establish our country as the global leader in software and security for connected car and autonomous vehicle development,” said Trudeau. “This centre will create great middle-class jobs for Canadians, new opportunities for recent university graduates, and further position Canada as a global hub for innovation.”
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) December 19, 2016
The market for autonomous vehicles is still in its very early stages. However, there have been some industry experts predict that by 2020, 50 per cent of vehicles on the road will be connected to the cloud. Such vehicles will be equipped with Internet of Things (IoT) edge nodes and sensors that generate huge amounts of data.
Following numerous failed attempts to regain its prominence in the smartphone space, BlackBerry, last week announced that it was licensing its mobile phone manufacturing to a Chinese mobile conglomerate. With that move, the Waterloo, Ont.-based company has committed itself deeply to shifting its focus on its software side of the business.
BlackBerry is betting heavily on the IoT trend and is building its portfolio of key technologies that will provide embedded intelligence for cloud-connected electronics and autonomous cars.
“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,” said Chen.
— John Chen (@JohnChen) December 19, 2016
BlackBerry QNX has been supplying mission-critical embedded software to the automotive industry for over ten years and can be found in more than 60 million vehicles today.
Millions of telematics-equipped cars on the road are using BlackBerry’s Certicom security technology for communication authentication and authorization, according to the company.