BlackBerry has opened an R&D center to speed up the creation of software for self-driving vehicles and connected communications technology that allows vehicles to talk to each other and to the roadway infrastructure around them.
BlackBerry CEO John Chen and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the opening of the center today in BlackBerry's QNX development facility in Ottawa.
As part of its autonomous car development push, BlackBerry's QNX division plans to recruit and hire local software engineers to work on ongoing and emerging engineering projects.
BlackBerry's QNX division is a long-time developer of vehicle-embedded telematics software for the automotive industry, and the company claims its product can be found in more than 60 million vehicles today. BlackBerry's Certicom security technology is also used for vehicle communication authentication and authorization.
BlackBerry said it's now extending the QNX platform expertise into advanced driver assist systems, connected vehicle and autonomous vehicle systems, and secure over-the-air software update services.
QNX could act as an onboard computing hub for self-driving vehicle technology, such as sensors, cameras, and LiDAR, which uses a laser to scan the area around a vehicle and create a 3D image of its surroundings.
Last month, Ford Motor Co. announced it had inked a deal for expanded use of BlackBerry's QNX and Certicom security software, which will ultimately allow the automaker to provide connected vehicles and secure mobile platforms for its customers.
Earlier this year, Ford announced it was dropping Microsoft as the platform for its SYNC infotainment system and adopting QNX instead. Ford's new SYNC 3, using QNX, was rolled out in 2017 vehicles this past summer.
The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario recently said it will allow BlackBerry QNX to test autonomous vehicles on Ontario roads as part of a pilot program.
One of the center's first projects will be supporting the autonomous vehicle pilot as well as BlackBerry QNX's work with the University of Waterloo, PolySync, and Renesas Electronics to build a autonomous concept vehicle.
Experts predict that as many as 75% of all cars will connect to the cloud by 2020.
"In the coming hyper-connected world, cars will soon carry one of the highest concentrations of internet of things (IoT) edge nodes and sensors, generating a vast amount of valuable and actionable data," Blackberry said in its announcement. "Anticipating this shift, BlackBerry is investing in key technologies and building a product portfolio that will provide the embedded intelligence that powers the core electronics of connected and autonomous cars."