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To create the debate a bit, no less than 215 million vehicles in the world (compared to 16 million in 2013) are equipped with software provided by QNX.
The Blackberry subsidiary works with 45 manufacturers (including BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Volkswagen, etc.), equipment manufacturers (Aptiv, Bosch, etc.), mobility start-ups (Xpeng), Canoo) and heavyweight players like Volvo. It must be said that the group has 40 years of experience with embedded software and that its expertise also applies to aviation (up to the US Air Force), railways and even medical.
In the automotive industry, the adventure dates back to 1998. QNX first worked with US-based equipment maker Delphi to integrate real-time software into multimedia systems. The company then expanded its palette and supported in-vehicle communication (dialogue between the processors and the CAN network) and went so far as to manage safety requirements.
The Blackberry offering is compliant with the ISO 26262 standard of reliability and what is called ASIL D (the most critical safety threshold). These are restrictions that GAFA (and no longer Microsoft) do not know how to administer and that they do not want to administer in advance. “They do not want to go to such low levels,” said Grant Courville, vice president of products and strategy at BlackBerry.
This does not prevent the Canadian company from having good relations with Google. For example, it offers simulation software to integrate Android Automotive features with manufacturers and collaborates with the internet giant around the digital cockpit.
A conductor role
Illustrative photoCredit Photo – BlackBerry
Those who do not know car technology well and who believe that Tesla is the only one who develops software are unaware of the complexity of the built-in architecture. And they are far from imagining that a vehicle is incredibly more sophisticated than an advanced smartphone.
The technical development, towards more electrified, connected and automated vehicles tomorrow, justifies an even more pronounced shift towards software. Car brands must offer both an extension of the digital life on board, but also safety-related functions (black box, alarm for exceeding the permitted speed, integration of more and more driving aids to get good grades in EuroNCAP tests) and comfort.
To reconcile these requirements without making the vehicle heavier, the simplest way is to integrate high-powered computers (HPC) and offer ongoing software updates. Again, Blackberry does not have to suffer under comparison. “We did the remote update long before Apple on smartphones,” Grant Courville recalls. And the Canadian company has another enviable expertise, namely cybersecurity.
It also offers a scanning system called Jarvis, which helps car players test their vulnerability to computer attacks. The combined know-how in security and safety makes QNX a virtually inevitable partner. For the record, 24 out of 25 electric car manufacturers trust it. The latter uses, for example, a tool that manages sensor data associated with the cloud. It’s called Ivy and is compatible with environments like Linux or the “home” QNX Neutrino operating system. It also allows brands to have a personalized display and bespoke services.
Partner of the largest for autonomous driving
Illustrative photoCredit Photo – BlackBerry
Slightly known to the general public (apart from their smartphones), Blackberry is a major player in the automotive ecosystem.
And he is reaping a number of strategic deals these days. For example, they will collaborate with BMW and its compatriot equipment manufacturer Magna on driving aids. The group was also selected by Cariad (Volkswagen’s software subsidiary) for the VW.OS software platform, intended to be generalized from 2025 within the group’s vehicles. This partnership is part of the roll-out of a unified electronic architecture, linked to the cloud. The QNX branch must, for example, monitor automated driving functions.
In this regard, it should be noted that Blackberry opened an autonomous vehicle innovation center in 2016. Located in Ottawa, Ontario, and funded by the Canadian government, it is open to public and private partners. . This hub allows local players to develop software for connected and autonomous vehicles. It also serves as a test bench for prototypes, which can thus confront the region’s harsh winters.
After investing in the cockpit * and monitoring of assistive devices, QNX is trying to offer new services. The subsidiary has, for example, developed software that makes it possible to personalize the acoustics on board and offer high-quality sound. “We offer value,” assures Grant Courville, who also recalls that the lifespan of a car is 10 to 15 years, and that software precisely makes it possible to offer new experiences.
* We remember that QNX, for example, took over from Microsoft to manage Ford’s Sync multimedia management system based on voice recognition and Bluetooth connectivity.
Laurent Meilleud, our high-tech automotive specialist, gives you a focus on the essential role that the Canadian company BlackBerry plays in the automotive world. Important in the smartphone market in the mid-2010s, the company has a bright future in the car market.