BlackBerry has decided to completely move on from the world of hardware with its recent brand licensing deal with TCL. It is now diverting focus towards the expansion of its self-driving technologies with the launch of an autonomous driving research center in Canada today. The company’s next goal is to become a primary self-driving software services provider, competing against the like of Apple, Google, and Tesla.
Post giving up on its ambitions for being a major player in the smartphone market, BlackBerry is now aggressively focusing on its enterprise software products and offerings. And a prominent part of the same is the company’s subsidiary Blackberry QNX, which builds infotainment systems for automakers like BMW, Volkswagen, Audi among others and provides software services as well.
The company is, however, now expanding its Ottawa (Canada) facilities to dip its toe into the self-driving ecosystem and focus on developing driver assistance and autonomous vehicle technologies. The opening ceremony of the new research facility (or an autonomous vehicle hub) will be graced by the presence of Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Talking about the same, Sebastian Fischmeister, a University of Waterloo associate professor who has worked with QNX, says,
What QNX is doing is providing the infrastructure that allows you to build higher-level algorithms and to also acquire data from the sensors in a reliable manner.
The BlackBerry-owned firm is now planning to employ artificial intelligence to build embedded systems that interact with sensors, cameras, and other components required to drive the car itself. It has also inked a partnership with Ford (who is currently also working with Waymo) to integrate its self-driving tech and conduct tests using their vehicles. With the common goal of connected mobility in sight, both of them have dedicated engineering teams to work together on this project and launching a robo-taxi service by 2021.
The company is most likely expanding its presence and the scope of the development of its technology to compete with Apple, who recently ventured into their homeland to set up their own research center. Apple has currently given up on its ambitions of building a self-driving car but still plans to develop and distribute its software assets to third-party manufacturers. It has even roped in some top-level QNX employees to help it transition into a self-driving software maker.