Canadian digital services company BlackBerry has announced a formal partnership with Chinese search giant Baidu.
The two companies will work together on connected and autonomous vehicle technology, in order to merge BlackBerry’s QNX operating system with Baidu’s Apollo self-driving car platform.
The partnership was announced in a January 3rd, 2018 media release.
According to the release, BlackBerry and Baidu will also work to integrate the Chinese company’s CarLife smartphone software and DuerOS conversational AI platform into BlackBerry’s QNX technology.
“By integrating the BlackBerry QNX OS with the Apollo platform, we will enable carmakers to leap from prototype to production systems,” said Li Zhenyu, general manager of intelligent driving group at Baidu, in the January release. “Together, we will work together toward a technological and commercial ecosystem for autonomous driving, intelligent connectivity and intelligent traffic systems.”
Baidu’s Apollo was announced in 2017, as an open source platform aimed at powering self-driving vehicles. Baidu currently has a number of global partners testing its Apollo platform, including tech giants like Intel, NVIDIA, Microsoft, as well as automotive giants like Ford and Daimler.
Much like its American counterpart Google, Baidu began as a search engine, before expanding into a vast swatch of digital services, including a Wikipedia-esque online encyclopedia called Baidu Baike, a news service called Baidu News Feed, a music service called Baidu Music, as well as cloud computing and AI development.
The company’s total assets are estimated at $181.997 billion CNY (roughly 35.06 billion CAD) as of December 31st, 2016.
“Joining forces with Baidu will enable us to explore integration opportunities for multiple vehicle subsystems including ADAS, infotainment, gateways and cloud services,” said John Wall, senior vice president and general manager of BlackBerry QNX, in the same January release. “Baidu has made tremendous strides in artificial intelligence and deep learning. These advancements, paired with their high-definition maps and BlackBerry’s safety-critical embedded software and expertise in security will be crucial ingredients for autonomous vehicles.”
A vehicle powered by BlackBerry’s QNX autonomous vehicle technology first hit the streets in Ottawa on October 12th, 2017.
The vehicle carried Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, city councillor Marianne Wilkinson and Wall.
Baidu plans on launching its Apollo 2.0 platform on January 8th, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada, one day before CES 2018 formally begins.