BlackBerry Ltd has signed a deal to work directly with Ford Motor Co to expand the carmaker’s use of its QNX secure operating system, the Canadian technology company said on Monday, as Ford develops increasingly automated vehicles. A move BlackBerry says will help it move into self-driving technology as the company looks beyond the smartphone market.
Ford has been using software built by BlackBerry’s QNX unit for its Sync3 in-car infotainment system, but previously bought it through Panasonic Corp., QNX general manager John Wall said. The deal with Ford is the first BlackBerry has done directly with a major automaker, though it currently sells its technology to auto industry suppliers.
BlackBerry is hoping the new deal will expand the use of BlackBerry’s software in Ford vehicles as the two companies identify other systems where it might be used.
“We can form the basis of the entire vehicle all the way from autonomous drive through to infotainment,”
John Wall, the head of BlackBerry’s QNX unit, said in a phone interview.
QNX is almost exclusively used for in-car infotainment systems, but the company has been talking up the potential of self-driving car software, an area Ford itself has been investing in heavily. The Canadian company has worked with startups to develop technology that brakes a car automatically when it spots something in its path.
The partnership could open up the possibility of BlackBerry working directly with other auto manufacturers, Wall said. QNX is used by more than 40 auto companies, he said.