Canadian phone-maker BlackBerry opened its Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Centre (AVIC), a testing site for connected and autonomous vehicles in Ottawa city, in its home country of Canada.
At this facility, BlackBerry plans to develop software for connected and self-driving vehicles, independently and in collaboration with partners in both private and public sector.
BlackBerry plans to spend about CA$100 ($75m) on the centre and could create 650 jobs in the next few years. At present, the facility employs about 400 engineers.
BlackBerry reiterated that it will hire local software engineers to work on ongoing and emerging engineering projects for connected and self-driving vehicles.
Recently, the company received approval from the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario to test autonomous vehicles on Ontario roads as part of a pilot programme.
The company is working along with the University of Waterloo, PolySync and Renesas Electronics in the development of a concept autonomous vehicle.
For over a decade now BlackBerry has been supplying embedded software to the automotive industry and it can be found in more than 60 million vehicles, the company said in a statement.
Several thousand vehicles are equipped with BlackBerry’s Certicom security technology for authenticating and authorising communications.
The firm plans to make an entry in advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) and connected vehicle and autonomous vehicle (CVAV) systems.
It said that by 2020, about 50% of all cars will be connected to cloud and a wide range of connected vehicles could be numbered at more than 20 billion. Vehicles would soon carry one of the highest concentrations of sensors needed for the Internet of Things (IoT).
By anticipating this shift, BlackBerry is making investment in the development of key technologies and is trying to build a product portfolio for connected and autonomous vehicles, it said.
BlackBerry CEO John Chen said: “Autonomous vehicles require software that is extremely sophisticated and highly secure.
“Our innovation track record in mobile security and our demonstrated leadership in automotive software make us ideally suited to dominate the market for embedded intelligence in the cars of the future.”
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “With the opening of its innovation centre in Ottawa, BlackBerry is helping to establish our country as the global leader in software and security for connected car and autonomous vehicle development.
“This centre will create great middle-class jobs for Canadians, new opportunities for recent university graduates, and further position Canada as a global hub for innovation.”