BlackBerry and Baidu agreed to a new collaboration meant to facilitate their efforts to advance, develop, and commercialize self-driving vehicles, the two companies announced Wednesday. The official description of the partnership is indicative of a business-to-business project targeted at traditional automakers and other companies looking to produce and sell driverless vehicles, with Baidu and BlackBerry focusing on the technological backend of such products, as well as their connectivity features, not all of which are necessarily crucial for the core functionality of autonomous driving solutions.
The actual collaboration has yet to start and was only agreed as part of a statement of intent signed by both tech giants. The Chinese company will contribute to the initiative with its Apollo platform for self-driving vehicles which launched over the summer and will eventually start relying on BlackBerry's QNX, an operating system designed with the goal of providing maximum security to various embedded platforms. The integration of Apollo and QNX is at the center of the partnership but the collaboration also spans other initiatives, including an effort to adapt BlackBerry's OS to Baidu's other services such as its artificial intelligence platform DuerOS and CarLife, a solution for using contemporary (Android) smartphones in conjunction with connected vehicles. Likewise, BlackBerry and Baidu will be working to implement the latter's mapping data into the QNX Car Platform, with this particular aspect of their collaboration being the most likely candidate for near-term commercialization given the rising adoption rates of modern vehicle infotainment systems.
It's currently unclear whether the partnership will allow for selling of individual technologies to interested automakers and other parties or if it will be solely dedicated to delivering a comprehensive package spanning everything from self-driving solutions to connected vehicle platforms. The latter scenario could yield much higher profits but would also be significantly riskier if the duo fails to establish its project as the ultimate technological offering for manufacturers of contemporary vehicles. No specific roadmaps pertaining to the partnership have yet been provided by the two companies but the timing of their announcement suggests more details on the matter may follow next week once CES 2018 starts in Las Vegas, Nevada.