In Depth

BlackBerry unveils self-driving car division

Smartphone-maker to create production-ready software for autonomous vehicles

Blackberry

BlackBerry has announced plans to open an autonomous driving division in Ottawa, Canada, to develop production-ready software for car manufacturers. 

The unit will support the smartphone-maker's new driverless pilot programme and work closely with the University of Waterloo, PolySync and Renesas Electronics to develop self-driving concept cars after Blackberry was given permission to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in Ontario.

Chief executive John Chen says the centre will create "middle-class jobs for Canadians" and "opportunities for university graduates", with the aim of elevating Canada's position in the global innovation industry. 

While autonomous vehicles "attract more attention" than connected cars, the latter are "already a major market for BlackBerry", says Alphr. The firm's existing software powers infotainment and telematics systems can be found in around "60 million vehicles".

Blackberry itself says "experts" predict "fifty per cent of all cars will connect to the cloud by 2020, and the wide range of 'connected things' could exceed 20 billion", adding that connected cars could house "one of the highest concentration" of internet-of-things systems of any smart device. 

The company joins a growing list of technology firms opening autonomous divisions, with Intel recently announcing plans to develop driverless infrastructure for car manufacturers. However, with their involvement with Tesla's autopilot systems, Nvidia and Qualcomm have several years more experience in the industry than either BlackBerry or Intel. 

Apple has also confirmed it is currently the possibility of developing autonomous vehicles[/4]. In a letter to US transport regulators, the tech giant said it was "excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation".

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