BlackBerry, Ford Team Up In Race To Produce Driverless Cars

Nov 07, 2016 04:24 AM EST | Matthew Cruz

Ford may be gaining an edge in the race to be the first mass-producers of the cars of the future in light of a new partnership forged with BlackBerry.

The former mobile giant announced on Monday that it would provide Ford with a crew of engineers who would assist it in integrating already-existing BlackBerry software into future models, reported CNBC 

The car manufacturer recently revealed a roadmap for the company's future that included mass-creation of driverless cars that would be available to ride-sharing services like Uber by 2021, according to The Verge. Even more ambitious, Ford hopes to be shipping self-driving cars to the public by 2025.

Ford has matched its bold plans with dedication on the ground, recently beefing up its Silicon Valley research center with 60 new autonomous test vehicles and doubling its number of employees working on the self-driving cars.

Ford now has BlackBerry's QNX Neutrino operating system in its infotainment systems, but the use of the software will expand under the new partnership. It also aims to include other BlackBerry technology like its Certicom security tech and audio processing software.

Google, Baidu and Mercedes-Benz have all announced similar plans to create driverless vehicles amid pressure to innovate brought on by competition like Tesla. Many car manufacturers have also partnered with technology companies in these efforts.

This partnership, in particular, is a welcome revival of Canadian company BlackBerry as it transitions its core product from cell phones to software. 40 auto companies are now using its QNX software, and BlackBerry expressed optimism that the Ford deal could pave the way for future partnerships with other manufacturers.

John Chen, BlackBerry's chief executive, said the company's knowledge in secure embedded software made them the top choice for automakers seeking to partner with tech companies to create the automobiles of the future. 

Ford and BlackBerry did not reveal the terms of their partnership or the scope of the software's use.

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