BlackBerry takes on driverless car market with new software developments

BlackBerry's automotive division has lifted the hood on a slate of new software for the rapidly evolving driverless car market.

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The company's Ottawa-based QNX operations on Wednesday showcased prototypes of its new technologies at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Among them is a program that allows vehicles to interact with each other in order to prevent collisions and to smooth traffic congestion.

It's just one of many new developments BlackBerry (TSX:BB) touted as part of an effort to join the self-driving vehicles market alongside technology giants like Google and Apple.

BlackBerry's QNX has spent years developing various automotive technologies such as dashboard infotainment systems used by Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Hyundai and Volkswagen.

In its latest announcement, the company said it has created a new software platform automakers can use as a base for building their own automated driving systems. Built within the system are sensors that use data from a number of sources like cameras and radar to enhance a vehicle's operations.

The new software -- being called QNX's advanced driving assistance systems -- is set for release in the second quarter of the year.

Another enhancement highlighted by the company has QNX software being used to rebalance the voice of the driver throughout the vehicle. Instead of yelling, the driver's voice is fed through the vehicle's speakers so that passengers in the back seats can hear everything clearly.

QNX already has a line of other noise enhancement and reduction options for automakers.

Its Active Noise Control technology reduces the low-frequency rumble of a car's engine inside the vehicle while its Engine Sound Enhancement software gives automakers the ability to recreate trademark engine sounds even in their more quiet models.

The acoustics management technology is expected to hit the market in the third quarter.

BlackBerry has been putting a greater emphasis on it software developments as it shifts focus from its struggling hardware operations, which create the company's line of smartphones.



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