QNX' contribution to the self-driving future:
QNX is the most successful producer of car operating systems on the planet. Infotainment - and navigation systems in more than 60 million cars worldwide are running on QNX software. In 2010 the company was bought by a necessitous Blackberry, which is currently thriving on its transition to the car sector.
Why? Because after the purchase by Blackberry, QNX set its mind on driver safety and autonomous driving software, building its own Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS)- and V2X-software and integrating everything into one central operating system. ‘Neutrino’, the central operating system, will act as support for third-party hardware for all possible car manufacturers out there, with QNX anticipating that it will be running the control panel in the car of the future. And maybe later a fleet of the QNX self-driving car.
The success of QNX
It has been about then years since the Blackberry Pearl and Electron were the hottest mobile phones on the market, before iPhone and Samsung took over the business. Nowadays Blackberry is keeping its head above water mainly by its subsidiary QNX, which it bought it 2010. QNX has been the number one brand in merging technology and driving. Today that still mainly comes down to infotainment and navigation. Big chance that in your car QNX is giving you the possibly to turn on the radio, connect your mobile device, switch tracks through voice recognition, use your built in navigation system (QNX gets their data from mapping service Here) and collecting a call while you are automatically looking for a location based parking spot, all through the same device, running on an QNX operating system. Being a car infotainment pioneer, QNX also wants to make maps interactive and display them on your windshield, including directions, traffic information and points of interest.
For QNX it is key that all car technology is centralized in one operating device. In order for their success to continue, QNX needed to add driverless technology into the mix. Consumer demand for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems is high, but automakers face several challenges: large development costs, compliance with different safety certifications, integration of components from multiple suppliers, etc.
Therefor QNX built a single platform that handles all data from all possible sensor type: cameras, machine vision, ultrasonic sensors, radar, lidar, etc. making all those systems come together in a seamless way. ‘Neutrino’ covers infotainment, clusters and navigation as well as sensor fusion and can be built into any car model on the market. It centralises driver support tasks like adaptive cruise control, surround view, drowsiness monitoring, blind spot exposure, pedestrian detection, etc. into a realtime OS that, according to QNX, is reliable and responds to changing road conditions. One of the Pre-integrated partners of Neutrino was the Nvidia Drive platform.
In addition QNX added V2X (vehicle to everything) connection giving cars the possibility to communicate with other cars (used in collision warning, automatic breaking or lane departure warning) and with the infrastructure around them, such as traffic lights or parking lots. For V2X QNX pre-integrated Cohda Wireless’ MK5 on board unit.
Linux, Android, IOS or QNX? Which will be the operating system of the mainstream driverless car? In QNX’s niche the only real competitors are Google and Apple. All other are (possible) partners. QNX has been working together with military groups for autonomous vehicles for many years and companies like Euroimpianti have integrated QNX’ software in self-driving forklifts and unload trucks. But the recent ADAS implications have raised interest in mainstream EOMs like Ford (UPDATE: Ford became official QNX user in October 2016), Audi, General Motors and Hyundai. And seeing that QNX’s operating system run in roughly half of the in-car infotainment systems sold today, a lot more could pick up on the ADAS-applications too. Plans of building an own QNX self-driving car have never been made public but could easily be the next step.