BlackBerry QNX opens autonomous vehicle innovation centre

BlackBerry has opened its autonomous vehicle innovation centre to research autonomous cars.

After largely leaving the smartphone space of which it was a pioneer, the company is toinvest CA$100 million (about $75 million or £59.85 million) in autonomous car trials over the next several years, CEO John Chen announced on Monday. 

QNX will be responsible for introducing the vendor to the smart car market now, having reinvented the now-discarded BlackBerry phone operating system. It will now focus on how its embedded software interacts with sensors, cameras and other self-driving car components. 

Chen said: “Autonomous vehicles require software that is extremely sophisticated and highly secure. 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."

Middleware platform PolySync, the University of Waterloo and Renesas Electronics Corp, a semiconductor company will collaborate with BlackBerry for its smart car venture. 

IDC’s consumer mobility analyst Brian Haven, said: “One could make the argument that BlackBerry QNX is the strongest asset in their portfolio right now, so it’s refreshing to see this investment." 

BlackBerry currently employs 5,000 people, while QNX employs 400 engineers, Chen believes a majority of the investment will go towards supporting engineering jobs. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed the opening of the new centre: “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. 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."

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