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BlackBerry snags Canada's first autonomous vehicle test on public roads

Posted on Oct. 13, 2017

When most people think of BlackBerry, it's for the company's groundbreaking mobile phone that took the world by storm before ultimately falling to competitors at Apple, Google, and beyond. The Waterloo-based organization went from market giant to run-of-the-mill market participant pretty quickly.

BlackBerry was down, no doubt; but it was never out. And this week, it had the luxury of picking up a distinct honour in its home province.

After partnering with Lincoln to create a line of autonomous vehicles and setting up an innovation centre in Canada's capital city, BlackBerry got to show off what it's been working on at a major demonstration in Ottawa. It marked the first occasion on which an autonomous vehicle was tested on a Canadian public street.

Hundreds of residents came out to watch the grey Lincoln MKZ carrying Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, city councillor Marianne Wilkinson, and BlackBerry QNX General Manager John Wall—none of whom were at the wheel. The group was greatly excited about what the moment represented and what it could mean for the city going forward.

"Today is the first public fruits of what we've been doing," said Wall, whose QNX division was created to build an autonomous vehicle operating system. "We're going to provide all the infrastructure, the security, the safety, the redundancy, the communication, how the signals come in."

"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," said Watson in a release. "Wit 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."

If more activity like this continues and other large companies enter the fray, Ottawa's goal of becoming a "centre of excellence" will certainly be an attainable one.

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