The announcement builds on a four-year relationship between the two Canadian companies and reflects growing demand for autonomous tech
A pair of major Canadian companies are ramping up a partnership that will see more Canadian-made driver safety technology exported to automakers across the globe.
BlackBerry, a software company long removed from its smartphone days, has announced a multi-year agreement to create integrated Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) with auto parts manufacturer giant Magna International.
“We’re essentially telling the world that we have been working together and will be working more closely together on systems that are going to power electric vehicles and internal combustion engine vehicles,” said Grant Courville, vice-president of product and strategy at BlackBerry, in an interview with Electric Autonomy Canada.
Magna, which bills itself as a mobility technology company, said in a press release that BlackBerry will help develop some of its next-generation ADAS platforms, which the company will then integrate into vehicles leveraging their vehicle and sensor innovation.
“Collaborating with companies like with BlackBerry helps us deliver advanced solutions to automakers as they stay ahead of the curve,” said Sharath Reddy, senior vice-president of Magna Electronics, in the statement.
ADAS is a sensor-based technology that provides information and warnings to a variety of factors on the road — including if a driver drifts from a lane or approaches another vehicle. BlackBerry’s QNX operating system, which is already used in over 195 million vehicles throughout the world, will power the technology.
BlackBerry has been working on safety-related projects with Magna for the past four years. Courville says the partnership reflects the two companies’ expertise in their related fields: software and electronic integration supply to OEMs.
ADAS demand surging
According to a report cited in the press release, industry forecasters are predicting the global demand for ADAS technology to grow nearly 12 per cent per year this decade, and the companies are coming together to try and capitalize on the burgeoning market.
That report cites examples of OEMs like Tesla, Honda and Audi developing level 3 driving systems — the level at which ADAS technology is able to control driving without direct human supervision, yet a driver must be present and alert to take control of the vehicle at any time.
Last December, Germany approved the use of Mercedes’ level 3 ADAS-equipped vehicles on its roads, the first company so approved.
Partnerships between car makers and technology companies are also becoming more common in this space, for applications spanning ADAS and AI use in manufacturing, to in-vehicle integration of entertainment systems, other apps and for overall connectivity.
In 2021, for example, Ford partnered with Google to add Google Maps and voice assistant to its vehicles, enhance its over-the-air connectivity with vehicles and to develop artificial intelligence systems for manufacturing. Cruise and GM struck a deal with Microsoft focused on self-driving technology last year, as well.
Courville says the BlackBerry-Magna partnership reflects the talent development underway in the Canadian industry through initiatives like the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network.
In the release, John Wall, senior vice-president at BlackBerry and head of QNX, also highlighted the fact that this partnership involves two Canadian companies.
“It’s a great pleasure to partner with another Canadian company — and global market leader in the automotive market. Our partnership combines both companies’ software and safety sensor strengths as part of one platform that is already being developed to multiple global OEMs,” he said.
A specific timeframe for the deployment of BlackBerry and Magna’s ADAS platform hasn’t been announced.
In the end, Courville hopes this partnership will create technology that will exceed OEM requirements and make driving safer.
“At the end of the day, you want the vehicles to be smarter and safer, and that’s what we focus on.”