A BlackBerry QNX-equipped self-driving car hit the street in suburban Ottawa Thursday in what was billed as the first on-street evaluation of an autonomous vehicle in Canada.
The gray Lincoln MKZ pulled away with Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, councillor Marianne Wilkinson and John Wall, general manager of BlackBerry QNX, aboard.
BlackBerry QNX opened an autonomous vehicle innovation center in Ottawa late last year.
“Now is the first public fruits of what we’ve been doing,” Wall said.
The road was closed for the public presentation, which attracted dozens of individuals, but the vehicle is expected to be operating on city roads in the evaluation region atop actual traffic and pedestrians.
To help in the demonstration, the test loop across the suburban tech park was updated with traffic lights equipped with transmitters that communicate with the automobile in addition to repainted road lines and fresh LED street lights.
BlackBerry QNX is developing the software base for autonomous vehicles, while Wall said others are working on what he called “the mind.”
“In lots of instances, the OEMs want to have that, hence the Fords of the world, the Mercedes of the world, that is their secret sauce, they are going to create the mind,” he explained.
“We are going to provide all of the infrastructure, the safety, the security, the redundancy, the communicating, the way the signals arrive in.”
Wall said fully autonomous automobiles with no steering wheel are still a ways off, but he added that automobiles are already incorporating some of their technologies such as sensors that will keep your vehicle in its lane, hit the brake if they believe you will hit something or find another car in your blind spot.
Automotive and technology firms around the world have been rushing to develop self-driving systems.
A demonstration test zone was declared for Stratford, Ont., as part of the Ontario government’s strategy to make an Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network, with the aid of $80 million over five decades.
Canadian auto parts company Magna International Inc. announced earlier this week it would join BMW and Intel Corp. to create a self-driving system for its international automobile marketplace by 2021.
Several companies such as Uber and Waymo, which was spun from Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. this past year, have been analyzing self-driving cars on city roads in america.
Uber temporarily suspended its self-driving fleet last month after a car collided with a self-driving Uber SUV.
BlackBerry QNX has been a provider of software programs to the automobile industry for 20 years including telematics, infotainment, acoustics, and instrument cluster systems.