BlackBerry Partners with Baidu for Autonomous Car Safety System

BlackBerry is on the road to becoming a leading force in autonomous cars.

The Waterloo-based company has been selected by Chinese search giant Baidu to provide the safety operating system for Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving open platform.

Along with this announcement, BlackBerry will work with Baidu to integrate several of their connected car features into BlackBerry’s own QNX Car Infotainment System, including CarLife, a leading smartphone integration software for connected cars in China; DuerOS, a conversational AI system; and high definition maps.

“Joining forces with Baidu will enable us to explore integration opportunities for multiple vehicle subsystems including advanced driver assistance programs (ADAS), infotainment, gateways, and cloud services,” said John Wall, GM of BlackBerry QNX.

QNX is a platform acquired by BlackBerry in 2010 and now serves as a standard for connected car operating systems with retailers like Ford. The operating system is microkernel-based, meaning it runs mostly in the form of a small number of tasks, allowing for a very small overall size that is perfect for a connected car.

Baidu was particularly interested in BlackBerry’s safety standards, as when it comes to autonomous car systems like Apollo, there is a race among competitors in the space to maintain a high level of safety while still pioneering driverless tech. BlackBerry QNX’s ASIL-D certified safety operating system refers to the regulation that any car running that system or safety certification has the highest classification of initial injury risk—and with that, the most stringent and comprehensive level of safety measures.

Apollo from Baidu is an open platform that provides a total and secure solution for the company’s partners to develop autonomous driving solutions. It offers HD map services, an autonomous driving simulation engine, and a deep learning algorithm. With Baidu’s 70 worldwide partners, the company hopes to accelerate the development and deployment of driverless cars.

Many companies have closed systems when it comes to developing autonomous car technology, whereas Apollo is open sourcing their tech to quickly evolve the ecosystem.

However, operating an autonomous car system requires a great level of risk assessment, and the ASIL-D rating means BlackBerry QNX’s safety system is at the highest level currently available. Think of it like this: BlackBerry’s system has to be the safest it can possibly be because if it fails there is essentially nothing left to stop an accident; not even human interaction. Baidu is leveraging this to bring another level of reliability and security to their system, thereby improving the number of partners who may want to collaborate and integrate the system.

“BlackBerry QNX has established itself as the OS platform for safety-certified production-based systems,” said Li Zhenyu, GM of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group. “We aim to provide automakers with a clear and fast path to fully autonomous vehicle production, with safety and security as top priorities. By integrating the BlackBerry QNX OS with the Apollo platform, we will enable carmakers to leap from prototype to production systems.”

BlackBerry has been all over the connected car world lately, partnering with Qualcomm last month to roll out QNX as well as Pana-Pacific to offer BlackBerry Radar to more than 2,800 heavy-duty truck dealerships.