BlackBerry QNX and Ford sign deal to work together on automotive software

BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB) has signed an agreement with Ford Motor Co. to expand the use of the firm's automotive and security software in the car manufacturer's vehicles.

The deal will see a team of BlackBerry employees work directly with Ford to beef up how its technology is used to create safe, connected vehicles.

The head of BlackBerry QNX, John Wall, says the agreement is the first to cut out the middleman between BlackBerry and an automaker. Previously, automakers would buy products that use QNX software from other companies.

He said the company hopes to sign similar deals with other automakers in the future.

BlackBerry's QNX software already powers Ford's interactive SYNC 3 infotainment system and is in more than 60 million cars.

QNX Software Systems is the leader of the city’s automotive software industry. The developer of automobile clusters, telematics and infotainment OS became a BlackBerry subsidiary in 2010 and now acts as the Waterloo giant’s automotive arm.

Earlier this year, Mr. Wall told Techopia that QNX is working on autonomous vehicle technology from its Kanata hub.

“I think probably the largest challenge is, how do you make sure all the vehicles and the infrastructures are speaking the same language? This is what might take time to implement,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be gradual. I really see a large timeframe where you’re going to have assisted driving that’s going to, every year, year over year, improve the safety of the vehicle before people start watching TV in the car."