Black­Berry self-driv­ing car makes first Cana­dian road test

‘First pub­lic fruits’ of work at cen­tre


A Black­Berry QNXe­quipped self-driv­ing car hit the road in sub­ur­ban Ottawa in what was billed as the first on-street test of an au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cle in Canada.

The grey Lin­coln MKZ pulled away with Ottawa Mayor Jim Wat­son, Coun. Mar­i­anne Wilkin­son and John Wall, gen­eral man­ager of Black­Berry QNX, aboard.

Black­Berry QNX opened an au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cle in­no­va­tion cen­tre in Ottawa late last year.

“To­day is the first pub­lic fruits of what we’ve been do­ing,” Wall said.

The street was closed for the pub­lic demon­stra­tion, which at­tracted scores of peo­ple, but the car is ex­pected to be op­er­at­ing on city streets in the test area amid real traf­fic and pedes­tri­ans.

To aid in the demon­stra­tion, the test loop around the sub­ur­ban tech­nol­ogy park has been up­graded with traf­fic lights equipped with trans­mit­ters that com­mu­ni­cate with the car as well as re­painted street lines and new LED street lights.

Black­Berry QNX is de­vel­op­ing the soft­ware foun­da­tion for au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles, while Wall said oth­ers are work­ing on what he called “the brain.”

“In a lot of cases, the OEMs want to own that, so the Fords of this world, the Mercedes of this world, that’s their se­cret sauce, they’re go­ing to build the brain,” he said. “We’re go­ing to pro­vide all the in­fra­struc­ture, the se­cu­rity, the safety, the re­dun­dancy, the com­mu­ni­ca­tion, how the sig­nals come in.”

Wall said fully au­ton­o­mous cars with­out a steer­ing wheel are still a long way off, but he added that cars are al­ready in­cor­po­rat­ing some of the tech­nol­ogy such as sen­sors that will keep your car in its lane, hit the brake if they think you are go­ing to hit some­thing or de­tect an­other car in your blind spot.

Au­to­mo­tive and tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies around the world have been rac­ing to de­velop self-driv­ing sys­tems. A demon­stra­tion test zone has been an­nounced for Strat­ford, Ont., as part of the On­tario gov­ern­ment’s plan to cre­ate an Au­ton­o­mous Ve­hi­cle In­no­va­tion Net­work, with the help of $80 mil­lion over five years.

Cana­dian auto parts firm Magna In­ter­na­tional Inc. an­nounced ear­lier this week that it would join BMW and In­tel Corp. to de­velop a self-driv­ing sys­tem for the global ve­hi­cle mar­ket­place by 2021.


David van Geyn, right, from Black­berry QNX, holds up his hands to demon­strate the driver­less car test, with Ottawa Mayor Jim Wat­son, left, and oth­ers join­ing the ride Thurs­day in sub­ur­ban Ottawa. It was touted as the first street test of an au­ton­o­mous...

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