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BlackBerry releases new software platform to improve connected car security

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BlackBerry BlackBerry is betting that the security it became known for with its mobile devices will help it carve out a niche in the auto market.

On Wednesday, the eve of the influential Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the Canadian company announced it will be releasing a secure software platform for use in cars and other devices that require secure connection called QNX® Software Development Platform 7.0 (QNX® SDP 7.0.)

As sales of BlackBerry smart phones dwindle to next-to-nothing, the company has for some time viewed the automotive industry as a market it can expand to and provide secure software for self-driving vehicles. Wednesday represented another step toward that goal.

“With the push toward connected and autonomous vehicles, the electronic architecture of cars is evolving – from a multitude of smaller processors each executing a dedicated function, to a set of high performance domain controllers, powered by 64-bit processors and graphical processing units,” said John Wall, the senior VP and head of BlackBerry QNX in a press release Wednesday.

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QNX is not limited to just vehicles and phones though. BlackBerry frames its foray into the connected car market squarely under the Internet of Things banner, where it sees a role for itself in multiple verticals.

“To develop these new systems, our automotive customers will need a safe and secure 64-bit OS that can run highly complex software, including neural networks and artificial intelligence algorithms. QNX SDP 7.0 is suited not only for cars, but also for almost any safety- or mission-critical application that requires 64-bit performance and advanced security. This includes surgical robots, industrial controllers and high-speed trains,” continued Wall.

BlackBerry has been involved with the auto industry since it acquired QNX in 2010. Originally created in 1982 by a Canadian company that was then known as Quantum Software Systems, it was renamed to QNX Software Systems before being acquired by BlackBerry. QNX was the first commercially successful microkernel operating system. A microkernel operating systems allow for the bare minimum to be running at one time thus using less power and allowing for more complex applications.

The BlackBerry tablet and all BlackBerry 10 devices both use a QNX based operating system, and in late 2014 Ford Motor Company switched from Microsoft Auto to QNX. BlackBerry QNX is showing off its newest QNX SDP 7.0 at CES 2017 with the 2016 Jaguar XJ and 2017 Lincoln MKZ concept cars.

“The 2016 Jaguar XJ demonstrates Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities. Using LiDAR, radar, forward-facing cameras, global positioning systems (GPS), and inertial measurement units (IMU), the car can detect obstacles on the road, anticipate dangerous driving situations, and present warnings to avoid collisions to keep drivers and passengers safe. The QNX Platform for ADAS processes data generated from the sensors in realtime, and also records and plays back the data off-line for feature development and testing,” said BlackBerry’s recent press release.

Also on the radar at CES 2017 for BlackBerry is its new asset tracking software solution, BlackBerry Radar, which the company describes as a secure end-to-end hardware and software asset tracking solution for the transportation and logistics industry. The company says Radar provides more frequent sensor readings than any other solution on the market today and allows customers to accurately monitor assets and measure efficiency.

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