BlackBerry-driven robo-car spins its RIMs across Canada

Mobe designer remembers it still has QNX, puts it to work in self-driving ride

robot car canada

Video Today, a trio of self-driving cars – including a BlackBerry-powered ride – hit the streets in Canada for the first time. The autonomous vehicles will be tested by their manufacturers to assess their safety and control systems in the real world.

Ontario became the first province in Canada to allow robotic autos on the road on January 1 of this year, albeit with a human driver at the wheel just in case the software goes wrong. Given some of the participants in the trial, that's not outside the realm of possibility.

"Ontario's innovation ecosystem, with leading clusters in automotive, information technology, and cleantech, makes the province the ideal location to develop the disruptive technologies – like this AV pilot – that will shape the future of the industry," said Brad Duguid, Ontario's Minister of Economic Development and Growth.

The first vehicle, a 2017 Lincoln, has been modified by BlackBerry – formerly known as RIM – as part of the local firm's attempts to reinvent itself. Another Lincoln has been built by the WatCAR Project at the University of Waterloo's Centre for Automotive Research, and is nicknamed Autonomoose, and the third car is a Mercedes from European motoring firm Erwin Hymer Group.

"This is a direction in automotive engineering innovation that we are proud to lead in Canada, and we applaud the Government of Ontario for their foresight," said Pearl Sullivan, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Waterloo.

"As Canada's strongest research team in connected and autonomous vehicles, with engineering and computer science professors working in areas from embedded sensors, to advanced controls, to artificial intelligence, we are very excited about this new frontier for piloting Waterloo innovations."

Youtube Video

The testing process is expected to take some months. BlackBerry has been involved in automotive software for some years, but with mixed results: the company was forced to deny that its QNX operating system was involved in security breaches on Chrysler vehicles. QNX is a reliable real-time microkernel OS with a long history in automotive and embedded products. It was bought by RIM in 2010.

"The automotive industry is undergoing a significant transformation with the emergence of connected cars and autonomous drive," said John Wall, head of BlackBerry QNX.

"BlackBerry QNX is a leader in embedded software for connected cars and autonomous drive. Today's announcement is yet another step in our contribution to make autonomous driving a commercial reality." ®


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