Many people turned out in October 2017 to see the test of Blackberry QNX autonomous technology in a Ford Lincoln tested on city streets. (Canadian Press)

Canada’s Blackberry, from smart phones, to autonomous wheels


Blackberry, once “the” smartphone mobile device to have for business types and governments due to superior security software, has been moving into a new market.

The company which is now heavily into software development opened an autonomous driving research centre in Ottawa in 2016.

The Waterloo Ontario firm is working with a big name automakers like Ford, and Jaguar-Land Rover as it heads toward marketing autonomous technology.

Still about ten years off

Blackberry QNX which has already been supplying software platforms to the auto industry for years had its first road-test in October of last year on a closed city circuit. It already has QNX technology in some 120 million vehicles.

Blackberry CEO John Chen says it will likely be about ten years before autonomous vehicles become common on streets (Chris Young-CP)

CEO John Chen said that while the “brains” of autonomous vehicles will be the manufacturers proprietary technology, Blackberry will work on the foundations, safety, security, redundancy, how the signals come in.

Chen said however that even though many tech companies and automakers are racing to get into the market, autonomous vehicles as regulars on roads will likely be as much as ten years off.

One issue is that various countries have their own standards, not to mention differences in countries with left hand driving, and others right hand, and countries with 110 volt standards, and others with 220 volt standards, not to mention the confusion of regulations which are still evolving.

A Canadian Senate committee noted in a report this year that various levels of the government are taking contradictory approaches to autonomous vehicles and so need better internal communication and standardised policy making.

Today the company announced it has a deal with BYTON which will use QNX technology in its first series of electric vehicles.

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