Image: Canoo

BlackBerry is moving further into the automotive space with its latest announcement of a partnership with electric vehicle startup Canoo.

BlackBerry will be providing its QNX embedded system platform to Canoo to serve as the operating system for its fleet of semi-autonomous electric vehicles, which are due out in 2021.

Canoo is a California-based startup building EVs with a novel goal in mind: Providing a membership-based vehicle rental program that charges a flat rate for a bundle of services, including insurance, vehicle registration, and the Canoo vehicle itself.

BlackBerry’s role in the partnership involves licensing its QNX technology, along with the QNX OS for Safety 2.0, to Canoo to use as the backbone of its automated driver-assistance systems (ADAS).

Canoo’s vehicles will be equipped on launch with level 2 autonomous features. “Level 2 features are consistent with partial autonomy, enabling the vehicle to manage acceleration and steering and monitor components of its environment in certain conditions,” BlackBerry said in a press release.

The addition of Canoo to BlackBerry’s automotive client portfolio is the latest in a line of major partnerships the once-dominant smartphone manufacturer has added since its transformation into the world of connected vehicles. Ford, Damon Motorcycles, the Renovo automotive data platform, and other automotive industry integrations have made BlackBerry relevant once again, with analysts saying that the company’s future lies in the success of its QNX platform.

“The world’s leading automakers, their Tier 1 suppliers, chip manufacturers, and innovative startups such as Canoo continue to put their trust in BlackBerry and our ability to provide them with the safety-certified and secure software on which they can build the next generation of cars,” said John Wall, SVP and co-head of BlackBerry Technology Solutions.

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Canoo’s vehicles are built with seven cameras, five radars, and 12 ultrasonic sensors, and facial monitoring technology that will all use QNX OS to determine when it’s necessary to warn a driver of danger or intervene to take limited control of the vehicle in an emergency.

QNX OS for Safety has its own development platform to allow BlackBerry customers to modify and build upon the OS as needed to suit their particular needs. It’s ISO 26262 ASIL D and IEC 61508 SIL3 certified, and BlackBerry said it’s precertified microkernel real-time operating system can accelerate development timelines and reduce research and production costs.

“BlackBerry QNX is the industry standard for safety certified software operating systems, so it was a natural choice for us,” said Canoo’s head of propulsion and electronics, Phil Weicker.

Pricing for Canoo rentals is not yet available, but interested parties can sign up for the first wave of Canoos being released exclusively in Los Angeles in 2021.