Thursday, January 5, 2017

BlackBerry QNX’s self-driving Lincoln MKZ – what’s under the hood?

Kerry Johnson
Sr. Product Manager
BlackBerry QNX

At CES 2017, BlackBerry-QNX unveiled its self-driving Lincoln MKZ. 

In years past , BlackBerry QNX has become known for displaying its innovative technology in its concept cars, which included infotainment, mobile device connectivity, digital instrument clusters and ADAS. This year BlackBerry QNX has outfitted a Lincoln MKZ to demonstrate a self-driving vehicle. The Lincoln MKZ is much more than a demonstration vehicle – it is an engineering prototype that allows BlackBerry QNX engineers to experiment with and develop new technologies for the autonomous vehicle market.

You may wonder why BlackBerry QNX chose a Lincoln MKZ for its autonomous driving car. The reason is straight forward. The 2017 Lincoln MKZ comes equipped, from the factory, with all the necessary drive-by-wire capabilities. All of the driving systems (throttle, gearbox, steering and braking) can be completely controlled electronically. By using this capability as a starting point, BlackBerry QNX and its partners are able to focus on adding other self-driving capabilities such as the sensors, route planning, and maneuvering.

While providing the foundational software, BlackBerry QNX did not build this self driving vehicle alone. We worked closely with Renesas, University of Waterloo, Polysync and Cogent, to put the car on the road.

The following is a brief walkthrough of the technologies inside the Lincoln MKZ:

BlackBerry QNX
BlackBerry QNX’s goal was to build an autonomous vehicle using commercial embedded processors and safety certified embedded operating system (OS). At the core of the design was QNX’s safety certified OS, which powers all of  the intelligent software modules. QNX’s middleware serves to integrate RADAR, LIDAR sensors , multiple camera inputs and vehicle networking. BlackBerry QNX provided a port of the OpenCV library to help with the vision processing functions delivered by Cogent. 

BlackBerry QNX also provided a port of Robot OS (ROS), so that the University of Waterloo could easily bring their self-driving software algorithms to the car without having to re-write large portions of code.

The ROS software components are not truly embedded, production oriented software. However, in building an autonomous car we chose a phased approach. We chose to use existing software to test and validate the solution. This saves time and allows flexible prototyping. Once the code is finalized we can convert it into an embedded solution.   

University of Waterloo
The University of Waterloo, one of Canada’s leading autonomous driving research institutions, contributed several software components, including static and dynamic environment perception, path planning, maneuvering and dispatching control commands to the various actuators. It should be noted that, at the outset of the project, the University of Waterloo already had a number of these components operational. Part of the activity was to port the software from Linux to QNX – a task made simple by BlackBerry QNX’s support for the POSIX standard.

Polysync provided their framework for distributed communications and sensor integration. They also provided system data visualization tools, so the engineers could see how the system was operating from a central console.

Cogent provided a number of vision processing algorithms that processed input from multiple camera sensors.

The compute horsepower in the Lincoln MKZ comes from two Renesas R-Drive reference boards. Each Renesas R-Drive board has two Renesas R-Car system on chips (SoCs), each with quad-core ARM processors and image processing accelerators. Two R-Drive systems were used so that fail-over scenarios could be tested.

The following sensors were used to construct a 360-degree view of the surroundings and to achieve accurate positioning of the car:
  • 1 Delphi long range radar
  • 1 Delphi short & medium range radar
  • 2 Velodyne LIDARs
  • 1 forward-facing Point Grey camera
  • High precision GPS and IMU (Inertial Management Unit)
The car is now running on a test track.  In the following years BlackBerry QNX will continue to refine the system towards production oriented hardware and software. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

BlackBerry Radar and Modagrafics Partnership - A New Dimension in Asset Management

Kaivan Karimi
Sr. Vice President, Marketing and Strategy
BlackBerry Technology Solutions 

The need for efficiency in the trucking and transport industies has ever been more important.  Trailer utilization, theft, delay, and spoiled cargo are a few examples of problems that need to be solved.  

This is where BlackBerry Radar provides an innovative solution.  BlackBerry Radar allows shipping firms to monitor cargo in real-time, tracking everything from vehicle location and route data to trailer temperature, humidity, and contents. Thanks to its cloud-based analytics dashboards – that are accessible from anywhere via the web – Radar enables faster decision-making, more efficient use of trucking assets, and an overall increase in revenue per trailer.  Simple and self-contained, Radar dispatches instant event-driven alerts and regular, real-time updates, providing much better visibility into the status of the trailer for the dispatch center. Each Radar device is maintenance-free and takes only minutes to install, with a battery that lasts over three years while transmitting information more often than most tracking systems in the market. The built-in sensors monitor conditions and securely provide data to both the Radar dashboard and a fleet’s existing transportation management system
Radar’s end-to-end security, cloud-based architecture and browser-based user interface eliminates the need for costly IT investments or extensive security configurations.  With advanced technologies that are years ahead of competitors, our goal with Radar has always been to drive efficiency in the trucking industry. We constantly talk to our customers and partners and find solutions to their problems.  Our new partnership with fleet servigraphics provider and branding specialist Modagrafics is another step in this direction. 

Trailers are the new “mobile billboards,” and with a 97% ad recall rate (probability of remembering an Ad at later date after being exposed to) by consumers, trailer ads represent a valuable advertising tool. For over forty years, Modagrafics has provided fleets with the latest technology, design services, materials, printing, and logistics for vehicle branding. Their national installation network and experienced strategic management team wield a powerful product portfolio to offer better displays and easier management of brand presence. 

With Radar, Modagrafics is an even stronger strategic partner to their customers.  “The fleet customers we serve around the country have been looking for an affordable way to make all their trailers ‘smarter’ and leverage their fleet assets more effectively,” says Paul Pirkle, President and CEO of Modagrafics. “BlackBerry Radar is a game-changing solution that is incredibly easy to install and deploy across a fleet’s trailer pool. We think this is a huge step forward for the out-of-home advertising market.”

Radar provides a whole new level of ad measurement for trailer advertising campaigns. Branded trailer owners can see what highways their rolling billboards have been driving on, when they were there, and how much time they spent in areas dense with “consumer eyeballs.” They can then adjust routes and stops to get maximum reach for their ads, increasing their ability to reach targeted consumers. 

With its state-of-the-art secure sensing and communication technologies, ease of installation, and efficiency of use, BlackBerry Radar is changing the face of fleet management one partnership at a time.

View photos and videos of how BlackBerry Radar works on BlackBerry IoT’s Flickr page

And, for more information about BlackBerry Radar and the BlackBerry IoT Platform, visit

Kaivan Karimi is the SVP of Strategy and Business Development at BlackBerry Technology Solutions (BTS). His responsibilities include operationalizing growth strategies, product marketing and business development, eco-system enablement, and execution of business priorities. He has been an IoT evangelist since 2010, bringing more than two decades of experience working in cellular, connectivity, networking, sensors, and microcontroller semiconductor markets. Kaivan holds graduate degrees in engineering (MSEE) and business (MBA). Prior to joining BlackBerry, he was the VP and General Manager of Atmel wireless MCUs and IOT business unit.

BlackBerry QNX Partners with Obigo to Build a Better Browser for Your Car

John Wall
Senior Vice-President and Head of QNX Software Systems


Software plays a big role in current vehicles. The best example is your in-vehicle infotainment system. With just a few taps, you can play music from your mobile device, view and manage advanced navigation systems, make phone calls, tap into traffic reports and weather forecasts, all from your car’s center display console. Drivers and passengers love these systems and are dependent on them. However, Infotainment has its own challenges to address. Security aside, the infotainment system needs to be able to provide support for the latest and greatest web browser technology to give the users access to the content they want the instant they want it, whether on the web or off. You do not, after all, want to be fumbling with an unresponsive display when you are on the road.

At BlackBerry, we are constantly seeking ways to improve the vehicle cockpit experience and to enhance our QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment (QNX CAR). This is why we are proud to announce our partnership with Obigo a leading Korea-based provider of mobile Internet services and browser software. Obigo is working with is to deliver a powerful, Chrome Blink-based HTML5 engine, which will enhance the browser experience of your infotainment systems.

As part of the agreement, our internal HTML5 team will be augmented by Obigo’s team of experts who will help to optimize the latest Blink browser technology with QNX CAR (pictured). QNX CAR, our best in class Infotainment system, has more than 50% global market share and is present in over 60 million vehicles. With QNX bringing this new browser to market, vendors and manufacturers can enrich their driving experience through new applications and services, and drive further customer satisfaction.

“Many automotive OEMs and Tier-1s still view open source HTML browsers as lightweight,” explains Obigo CEO David Hwang. “With almost two decades of browser experience on embedded systems, we have been working to change those perceptions with highly optimized technology that address open source browser performance issues. Working with BlackBerry-QNX, we plan to develop a product that will boost interest in HTML5 technology for emerging in-vehicle applications and services.”

Obigo’s technology will also simplify the coding of HTML 5 browsers for new infotainment systems and accelerate the product development cycle. Obigo joins the ecosystem of BlackBerry QNX partners that collectively offer the best-in-class system level solution for our infotainment customers.