BlackBerry and Chinese tech company Baidu are partnering to enable connected and autonomous vehicles, with Baidu committing to use BlackBerry’s QNX safety operating system as the basis for its Apollo autonomous driving open platform.

The two companies will also work together on integrating Baidu’s CarLife,high-definition maps for navigation that will run on BlackBerry’s QNX in-car infotainment system, and Baidu’s conversational artificial intelligence system. BlackBerry’s stock rose to its highest point in four years on the news, which CIBC Capital Markets analyst Todd Coupland told Reuters was “a very solid win for BlackBerry.”

Although the deal is aimed at supporting automotive OEMs worldwide, China in particular is expected to be a major market for advanced and autonomous driving features. A 2016 survey of automotive customers by Pwc in mainland China and Hong Kong found that “Chinese consumers place more emphasis on in-car technology than on price or engine performance when it comes to buying a car, and 40% are willing to change brands for better connectivity. … More than 75 percent of Chinese car buyers would be willing to increase spending on safety features, while 60 percent would pay more for vehicle management features that monitor usage, run diagnostics, and record accident data.”

“BlackBerry QNX has established itself as the OS platform for safety-certified production-based systems,” said Li Zhenyu, General Manager of Intelligent Driving Group, Baidu. “We aim to provide automakers with a clear and fast path to fully autonomous vehicle production, with safety and security as top priorities. By integrating the BlackBerry QNX OS with the Apollo platform, we will enable carmakers to leap from prototype to production systems. Together, we will work toward a technological and commercial ecosystem for autonomous driving, intelligent connectivity, and intelligent traffic systems.”

Baidu’s president, Ya-Qin Zhang, will be speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show on a panel about self-driving vehicles.

“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 GM of BlackBerry QNX. “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.”


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