TORONTO – Ford Motor Co. will hire approximately 400 employees from embattled communications company BlackBerry Ltd. as part of sizable new investments in Canada that include a connected-vehicle research center in Ottawa, the smartphone maker said Thursday. Ford said the Ottawa research center is part of a 500 million Canadian dollar ($376 million) investment. The company also plans to increase sustainability and fuel economy research at its Windsor and Oakville operations. The company said it will hire approximately 300 engineers in Canada and 100 additional hardware and software engineers in the U.S. to support the work of the Canadian team. The new Ottawa Research and Engineering Centre in Canada will focus on research and development across infotainment, in-vehicle modems, gateway modules, driver-assist features and autonomous vehicles, said Ford.
BlackBerry's track record for mobile security and leadership in automotive software makes moving into autonomous driving research a natural fit, the company's chief executive John Chen said Monday at the opening of a new research centre in Kanata, Ont. "Autonomous vehicles require software that is extremely sophisticated and highly secure," Chen said. "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." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the launch of the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Centre (AVIC) by the Waterloo, Ont.-based smartphone pioneer. "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," Trudeau said.
Federal bureaucrats are raising concerns about distracted driving in semi-autonomous cars that don't require much input from the driver. And at least one expert is anticipating that, as the so-called'smart' cars get smarter, there will eventually be an increase in an unusual form of distracted driving: hanky-panky behind the wheel. "I am predicting that, once computers are doing the driving, there will be a lot more sex in cars," said Barrie Kirk of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence. "That's one of several things people will do which will inhibit their ability to respond quickly when the computer says to the human, 'Take over."' CBC's Aaron Saltzman took Tesla's new autopilot feature out for a spin.
Ontario ambitiously greenlit autonomous driving tests back in January, but nobody wanted to take the city up on its offer. This was likely due to its proximity to Michigan, where American car companies can test similar conditions without having to leave the country. But today brings good news for Canada: three groups are finally deploying the first self-driving cars in the country to Ontario's streets. The pilot project involves three cars developed by the University of Waterloo, the automaker Erwin Hymer Group and Blackberry QNX. Each will test their own vehicle: a Lincoln MKZ hybrid sedan (nicknamed "Autonomoose"), a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van, and a 2017 Lincoln running Blackberry software, respectively.
Nearly eight months after one of its autonomous test vehicles hit and killed an Arizona pedestrian, Uber wants to resume testing on public roads. The company has filed an application with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to test in Pittsburgh, and it has issued a lengthy safety report pledging to put two human backup drivers in each vehicle and take a raft of other precautions to make the vehicles safe. Company officials acknowledge they have a long way to go to regain public trust after the March 18 crash in Tempe, Arizona, that killed Elaine Herzberg, 49, as she crossed a darkened road outside the lines of a crosswalk. Nearly eight months after one of its autonomous test vehicles hit and killed an Arizona pedestrian, Uber wants to resume testing on public roads. Police said Uber's backup driver in the autonomous Volvo SUV was streaming the television show'The Voice' on her phone and looking downward before crash.