Black­Berry’s QNX self-driv­ing car makes first Cana­dian road test

Edmonton Journal - - FINANCIAL POST - CRAIG WONG

OTTAWA 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.

Sev­eral com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Uber and Waymo, which was spun out of Google’s par­ent com­pany, Al­pha­bet Inc. last year, have been test­ing self-driv­ing cars on city streets in the United States.

Uber briefly sus­pended its self­driv­ing fleet last month af­ter a car col­lided with a self-driv­ing Uber SUV.

Black­Berry QNX has been a sup­plier of soft­ware plat­forms to the auto industry for 20 years in­clud­ing telem­at­ics, in­fo­tain­ment, acous­tics, and in­stru­ment clus­ter sys­tems.

JULIE OLIVER

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 ve­hi­cle in Canada.

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