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Blackberry QNX takes autonomous car for a spin at Kanata North Technology Park
It's not everyday you see a car driving around a parking lot without the driver's hands on the wheel but that's exactly what happened outside Blackberry QNX's Kanata office Friday.
The high-tech company took one of its autonomous vehicles for a spin outside its lab with more than a dozen media and politicians nearby.
"These guys, those software engineers, they are ahead of the curve," Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said after touring the facility. "They are at the leading edge of this work."
Blackberry QNX is one of about 70 Ottawa companies pushing the gas on autonomous vehicles. 40 of those companies are based at the Kanata North Technology Park.
"I think it's huge, it's every car maker in the world trying to do this," said John Wall, the head of Blackberry QNX. "I think you are going to see is a very gradual adoption of autonomous functions within the car. I think it will start with safety features."
Wall believes autonomous features like lane detection warnings, automatic breaking and parking assist will be in most new cars by the year 2021 with more in-depth features and advanced features shortly there after.
Blackberry QNX is currently working with the city of Ottawa to do its first test drive on public property. It will likely happen in the Fall.
The push for autonomous vehicles and the software required has helped push Ottawa, specifically Kanata, forward on the international stage.
Ford announced earlier this year it is spending $338 million on a new research and development centre for self-driving car technology in Ottawa.
Dubbed the Ottawa Research and Engineering Centre, the automotive giant says it's expected to bring nearly 300 high-skill jobs to Ottawa. The centre will have satellite campuses in Oakville and Waterloo.
"The centre will focus on research and development across infotainment, in-vehicle modems, gateway modules, driver-assist features and autonomous vehicles," a news release from the province said at the time.
No timeline was given for the Ford centre's opening.