The test drive of a BlackBerry QNX-equipped autonomous car in Ottawa’s west end today marked the first trial run of a driverless vehicle on a public street in Canada.
The driverless vehicle, grey Lincoln MKZ , took Mayor Jim Watson, Coun. Marianne Wilkinson and Blackberry GM John Wall for a spin around the Kanata North Technology Park for a live demonstration.
The City of Ottawa said in a news release it’s partnering with Blackberry’s QNX team to test the new automotive technology in partnership with other groups including Invest Ottawa, Algonquin College, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa.
Mayor Watson stated,
“Ottawa has established itself as an innovative and smart city, is home to a diverse technology hub, and has the expertise, new technology and talent needed to spark autonomous vehicle innovation,”
“With support from BlackBerry QNX and its Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Center and by working closely with all our partners, we are facilitating smart initiatives and research, and fuelling innovation and job creation in Ottawa.”
The street was closed for the public demonstration but the car is expected to be operating on city streets in the test area amidst real traffic and pedestrians. The test route had been optimized with technology at traffic lights to communicate with the cars during testing. The city said it hopes to make Ottawa a “centre of excellence” in the burgeoning autonomous vehicle industry as the testing continues.
The concept car stopped at a traffic light with a pedestrian crosswalk while people crossed the road.
— QNX News (@QNX_News) October 12, 2017
BlackBerry QNX opened an autonomous vehicle innovation centre in Ottawa late last year and “today is the first public fruits of what we’ve been doing,” Wall said.
BlackBerry QNX is developing the software foundation for autonomous vehicles, while Wall said others are working on what he called “the brain.”
“In a lot of cases, the OEMs want to own that, so the Fords of this world, the Mercedes of this world, that’s their secret sauce, they’re going to build the brain,”
“We’re going to provide all the infrastructure, the security, the safety, the redundancy, the communication, how the signals come in.”
Wall said fully autonomous cars without a steering wheel are still a long way off, but he added that cars are already incorporating some of the technology such as sensors that will keep your car in its lane, hit the brake if they think you are going to hit something or detect another car in your blind spot.
A demonstration test zone has been announced for Stratford, as part of the Ontario government’s plan to create an Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network, with the help of $80 million over five years.