BlackBerry QNX software to help power Hyundai AV technology

Motional car
BlackBerry QNX has won a contract to provide AV software to Motional, a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv. Photo courtesy Motional

BlackBerry QNX says its software will help power autonomous vehicles manufactured in a joint venture between South Korean auto giant Hyundai and self-driving technology supplier Aptiv.

The partnership, dubbed Motional, was launched in March 2020 as part of Hyundai’s multibillion-dollar bid to enter the autonomous vehicles space. Motional will be the first customer to use BlackBerry’s QNX Black Channel Communications platform, which is designed to ensure a vehicle’s embedded safety systems are able to seamlessly and securely exchange data.

“It's a real privilege to contribute our technology to Motional, a leader in developing safe, self-driving vehicles,” John Wall, senior vice-president and co-head of BlackBerry Technology Solutions, said in a statement. 

“QNX Black Channel Communications technology supports Motional's mission to deliver 'safety-first' systems in an era in which driverless transportation is evolving at a rapid pace.”

BlackBerry officials say the software puts data in a protective virtual “box” before it is sent, preventing it from getting lost in transit as it’s transmitted from one system to another ​– in other words, it stops the flow of information from “breaking up” like someone’s voice on a bad Zoom call.

Welcome contract win

The latest contract win is welcome news for BlackBerry QNX, which employs about 400 people at its flagship R&D facility in the Kanata North tech park. It comes a week after Ford announced it was dropping the software firm’s infotainment software from its vehicles starting in 2023 in favour of a new system from Google.

BlackBerry QNX designs a variety of software used in cars made by Ford and other leading auto manufacturers, including systems that underpin technology such as GPS navigation systems as well as assisted and autonomous driving platforms.

Last June, the company said QNX software developed in Kanata is now embedded in more than 175 million cars, an increase of 25 million vehicles over 2019. The software is used in brands such as Audi, BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen.

Hyundai is working with other partners such as Kia Motors on its AV initiative, which is receiving financial backing from the South Korean government. The carmaker reportedly plans to launch fully autonomous “robotaxis” in major U.S. cities within the next two years using the Lyft ride-hailing platform.