BlackBerry partners with Ford Motors

In a first of its kind, BlackBerry has partnered with Ford Motor to expand the usage of its QNX operating system. The terms of the deal has yet to be disclosed.

On Monday, BlackBerry Ltd disclosed it has signed a deal with Ford Motor Co to expand the usage of its QNX operating system. Ford Motors is increasingly looking to automate its vehicles.

Although the Canadian tech company does sell its technology to auto industry suppliers, this is the first time that it will be working directly with a major auto manufacturer.

Having ceded its market to rivals such as Google, Samsung and Apple, BlackBerry is betting its future on auto manufacturers and other manufacturers to boost the sales of its software products.

Case in point: Panasonic Automotive currently uses BlackBerry’s QNX operating system in the Sync 3 infotainment console which it supplies to Ford.

Having signed this deal, BlackBerry is hoping to expand the usage of its software by identifying other systems wherein it can be used in Ford’s vehicles.

“We can form the basis of the entire vehicle all the way from autonomous drive through to infotainment,” said John Wall, the head of BlackBerry’s QNX unit.

Ford has announced that it is ramping up plans and efforts to bring driverless vehicles by 2021, by which time it hopes to offer fully automated vehicles for commercial ride sharing.

According to Wall, BlackBerry’s QNX is certified for being used in an autonomous driving environment.

“In the initial engagements you can think of an expansion into the cockpit; telematics, infotainment, cluster,” said Wall.

Both Ford and BlackBerry have declined comment on how QNX will be rolled out into new systems. They also refused to discuss the financial terms of the deal.

BlackBerry mentioned that a dedicated team of QNX engineers based out of Ottawa and Waterloo, will work with Ford to expand the usage of the QNX operating system.

“We’re providing the plumbing for the vehicle that is both robust and safe and secure to allow the customers to build their applications on top of that,” said Wall.

In 1982, Dan Dodge founded QNX. He stayed on even after BlackBerry bought the company in 2010. He left the company in 2015 when Apple hired him to be part of its self-driving technological plans.

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