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Blackberry launch autonomous vehicle innovation center in Canada

Smartphone vendors Blackberry have officially unveiled a state-of-the-art autonomous vehicle innovation center. The fabulous new faculty will be housed within its QNX facility which is located in Ottawa, Canada. The ultimate purpose and vision for the center is to develop production-ready software aimed at accelerating the adoption of connected and self-driving vehicles.

The topic of connected cars and autonomous vehicles is a trending term in the world of technology and innovation. For instance, just last week, Google announced that it was spinning off its self-driving car project into Waymo. That signaled Google’s intent to become a major player in the automotive market.

Whilst earlier this week, global online transportation company Uber got into hot water with authorities in California for deploying  a  number of self-driving vehicles on the San Francisco roads. Uber didn’t obtain a permit which was necessary according to state regulations on autonomous vehicle testing - and were subsequently warned if its cars weren’t removed from the roads with immediate effect, they would face legal action.

Blackberry hopes its latest move will help the company establish itself in the sector as a market leader following the launch of the incredible innovation center which they believe will propel them ahead of their rivals in their quest to develop self-driving vehicles.

Industry analysts felt Canada is the natural fit for the new center following the decision by Ministry of Transportation of Ontario to approve BlackBerry QNX to test autonomous vehicles on Ontario roads, as part of the government's autonomous vehicle pilot program.

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"Autonomous vehicles require software that is extremely sophisticated and highly secure," said John Chen, executive chairman and CEO of BlackBerry, in a statement. "Our innovation track record in mobile security and our demonstrated leadership in automotive software makes us ideally suited to dominate the market for embedded intelligence in the cars of the future."

Analysts have said that the QNX platform is the future of BlackBerry. QNX was acquired by BlackBerry in 2010 and Ford chose it to replace Microsoft for its Sync infotainment platform. The QNX platform has a reputation for being secure, and it is already in more than 60 million vehicles from 20 different automakers, including the Sync 3 system in Ford vehicles. 

BlackBerry QNX plans to hire local software engineers to work on connected and autonomous car projects. One of the first projects will be supporting Ontario's autonomous driving pilot as well as BlackBerry QNX's work with the University of Waterloo, PolySync, and Renesas Electronics to build an autonomous concept vehicle.

BlackBerry QNX is extending its platform expertise into ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist Systems), CVAV (Connected Vehicle and Autonomous Vehicle) systems and secure Over the Air Software Update services.

"With the opening of its innovation center in Ottawa, BlackBerry is helping to establish our country as the global leader in software and security for connected car and autonomous vehicle development," said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a statement. "This center will create great middle-class jobs for Canadians, new opportunities for recent university graduates, and further position Canada as a global hub for innovation."