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Baidu, BlackBerry form an autonomous-driving dream team

12 January 2018

Chinese internet megacorp Baidu and BlackBerry are coming together to form a Sino-Canadian Voltron of autonomous driving technology.

"Given the importance of cameras as sensors for autonomous driving, we considered many aspects in our selection process for the Apollo platform including product roadmap, experience in automotive, and technical support for ecosystem platforms", said Mr. Zhenyu Li, VP and General Manager of Intelligent Driving Group at Baidu.

The two companies said they had signed a letter of intent to make Blackberry's QNX automotive operating system the foundation for Baidu's open platform for autonomous driving. BlackBerry will get to take advantage of Baidu's CarLife smartphone integration and its conversational artificial intelligence, DuerOS.

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"By integrating the BlackBerry QNX OS with the Apollo platform, we will enable carmakers to leap from prototype to production systems", he said.

BlackBerry (TSX:BB) - which has been repositioning itself as a cybersecurity, software and intellectual property supplier - is also working with numerous automotive industry's major chip makers and parts suppliers.

CEO John Chen said last month after announcing the company's third-quarter results that BlackBerry is making good progress towards being a key software supplier for autonomous vehicles.

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As the companies note in their press release, Apollo has attracted more than 70 partners worldwide, including equipment manufacturers, top automakers, developer platforms and tech startups.

The partnership also includes integrating BlackBerry's more established in-car entertainment software into Apollo. BlackBerry has recently concentrated on the software to run sophisticated computer chips for autos that manage multiple safety critical systems. ON Semiconductor operates a responsive, reliable, world-class supply chain and quality program, a robust compliance and ethics program, and a network of manufacturing facilities, sales offices and design centers in key markets throughout North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific regions. Baidu's ADSs trade on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol "BIDU".

The news sent the BlackBerry share price 13% up to a 4-year high. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.

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Baidu, BlackBerry form an autonomous-driving dream team