Ottawa’s autonomous vehicle players unveil new tech at CES 2019

blackberry qnx
BlackBerry QNX's Karma Automotive Revero concept car. Via QNX on Twitter.

A few of Ottawa’s autonomous vehicles players took a road trip to Las Vegas for the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show this week, where the world’s biggest tech companies are convening to showcase their latest wares.

Continuing its tradition of turning the annual electronics expo into an auto show, BlackBerry rolled into CES in style with a concept car based on the Karma Automotive Revero. While a flashy exterior can catch consumers’ eyes, most tech heads in attendance at the annual electronics expo are more interested in the software underpinning the vehicles.

BlackBerry’s QNX division – its automotive arm with operations based in Kanata – unveiled its security-focused digital cockpit solution. The new Android-enabled product combines QNX’s hypervisor, infotainment and instrument clusters tech onto a single platform – a “bundle” approach that BlackBerry says is emblematic of its strategy to develop, collect and sell complementary solutions to automakers.

One of the auto giants working with BlackBerry on autonomous and connected cars is Ford, which announced plans last month to move its Ottawa-based R&D centre to Kanata South. In Las Vegas, Ford demonstrated its vehicle-to-everything communication technology, which it plans to roll out in cars by 2022.

Another AV player with Kanata operations, Wind River, unveiled the latest capabilities of its Linux-based software portfolio at this year’s CES. The U.S. firm says its virtualization software can achieve the low-latency communication demands needed to keep autonomous cars safe and secure in the real world.

“The industry is moving beyond early pilot programs to actual commercial deployments. That means technology must extend past ‘what can be done’ to arrive at ‘what should be done’ to reach scale. Technology should do more than match functional requirements; it needs to support the business of automotive,” said Marques McCammon, vice-president of automotive at Wind River, in a statement.

Weather Telematics is also concerned with the demands on autonomous vehicles in the real world. Founded in Ottawa in 2010 and acquired by a Toronto-based company last year, the firm provides connected cars with real-time information on weather and road conditions. At its booth in Las Vegas, Weather Telematics is demonstrating how its machine learning tech can help companies with large fleets of vehicles adapt to ever-changing hazardous conditions.

Aurrigo – a relative newcomer to Ottawa’s AV hub – is also hoping to chat about the weather at CES.

The U.K. firm’s pods, which are designed to conquer the “last mile” of transportation, will be on display on the showroom floor to take attendees on an autonomous tour. With all the wit you’d come to expect from an artificial intelligence cab driver, the pod itself can talk to passengers about local tourist destinations, provide the weather forecast or even tell a joke to break some tension.

Ottawa’s uniquely challenging climate was actually one of the reasons the firm expanded to the capital. If you can’t be in Las Vegas this week for CES, check out our interview with Aurrigo vice-president of autonomous programs Chris Keefe below.

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