BlackBerry surges on deal with Baidu for self-driving cars

File photo of Blackberry sign seen in front of their offices on the day of their annual general meeting for shareholders in Waterloo
FILE PHOTO - A Blackberry sign is seen in front of their offices on the day of their annual general meeting for shareholders in Waterloo, Canada in this June 23, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files

January 3, 2018

(Reuters) – BlackBerry Ltd <BB.TO> and Chinese internet search firm Baidu Inc <BIDU.O> on Wednesday signed a deal to jointly develop self-driving vehicle technology, sending BlackBerry’s Toronto-listed shares up 13 percent to a four-year high.

The deal follows similar agreements with firms including Qualcomm Inc <QCOM.O>, Denso <6902.T> and Aptiv Plc <APTV.N> to develop autonomous-driving technology with BlackBerry’s QNX software, which are expected to start generating revenue in 2019.

Investors and analysts are closely watching what comes of those agreements amid expectations that QNX could become a key technology in the burgeoning self-driving vehicle industry, serving as the operating system for computer chips used to run self-driving vehicles.

QNX will be the operating system for Apollo, a platform for self-driving vehicles that Baidu announced in April and has billed as the “Android” of the autonomous driving industry.

“The opportunity is global, it’s for a very large market and I think it’s a very solid win for BlackBerry,” said CIBC Capital Markets analyst Todd Coupland.

Apollo has since signed up several major automakers, including Ford Motor Co <F.N>, Hyundai Motor Group <005380.KS> and several Chinese carmakers.

QNX has long been used to run car infotainment consoles. BlackBerry has recently developed the software to run sophisticated computer chips for autos that manage multiple safety-critical systems.

BlackBerry shares rose 13 percent in Toronto to C$16.95, their sharpest one-day gain since April and highest close since March 2013.

The two companies said they will also integrate Baidu’s CarLife, a leading smartphone integration software for connected cars in China, its conversational AI system and high definition maps with BlackBerry’s infotainment platform.

(Reporting by Alastair Sharp in Toronto and John Benny in Bengaluru; Editing by Jim Finkle and Sandra Maler)

  • Jack Woodburn

    Only a suicidal fool will utilize an autonomous vehicle any time soon, if ever. The rate at which this unproven, to date unreliable, and hackable technology is being pushed onto a gullible public fits well with the UN’s Agenda 21 initiative to dramatically reduce the the world’s population in order to insure its sustainability.