Despite losing its hold on the smartphone market, the Canadian company BlackBerry Ltd. is in no mood to give up on the technological sector so soon. The company is looking forward to establishing itself in other such industries. In order to do so, BlackBerry announced the BlackBerry QNX Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Center (AVIC). This facility situated in QNX’s Ottawa home will be the key laboratory for building the framework of self-driving cars.
BlackBerry has been looking for an opportunity to expand in the self-driving cars sector for a few years. The executive chief of the company, John Chen declared on Monday that BlackBerry will invest $75 million for this project. A majority of this amount will be spent on the engineering jobs involved to develop the project efficiently. The company will develop software to operate such driverless cars. BlackBerry’s venture into a new business might be a result of its retreat from the smartphone industry.
BlackBerry’s aim regarding the project
Under this project, the company will hire more than 600 engineers who will solely dedicate their expertise for the development of self-driving cars. It will focus the company’s expertise on the development of cyber security in autonomous vehicles. BlackBerry currently has 400 engineers working for the company. This project has full support of the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau. Trudeau was present during the announcement of this project and said that BlackBerry is pushing its boundaries to innovate once again.
In the press conference, Chen claimed that the company plans to invest the fund over the next few years at the Ottawa center. He also believes that providing software to the automotive industry will be a fast-growing business for the company. The company considers all car manufacturers as their potential customers. Therefore BlackBerry will leave no stone unturned to expand its reach in the automotive industry.
The self-driving cars rely on a complex software system for its functioning. This software has sensors which read traffic conditions, assess road conditions, and also avoid hitting other vehicles on the road. The Ottawa Lab will work to develop such complex software.
The BlackBerry QNX was initially founded as a software platform which helps in developing the “infotainment” system of cars. The software developed by the company is presently being used in more than 60 million cars. Automotive companies like Ford and General Motors have purchased this technology.
Execution of the self-driving cars project
BlackBerry decided to shift its focus to self-driving cars after its announcement that it would stop directly manufacturing smartphones. Instead of this, the company will license its technology to third-party manufacturers. In reference to this, the company has already finalized deals with manufacturers in China and Indonesia.
Chen states that the company is looking for partners who are willing to invest in this project. The Canadian Government might also financially support this project. Rumors suggest that the location of the lab is to give competition to the self-driving team of Apple which is also in Ottawa. BlackBerry will begin its work in this sector with the help of the semiconductor company Renesas Electronics Corp. and middleware supplier PolySync. The University of Waterloo has also shown interest in this project.