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BlackBerry Accelerates in Japan to Help the Country Realize its Vision: Self-Driving Cars on the Road by 2020

AUTOMOTIVE / 01.02.19 / John Wall

Jaguar XJ concept car demos the latest innovations in integrated digital cockpits using BlackBerry QNX Hypervisor for safe and secure connected transport vehicles in the Jaguar XJ.

Japan is globally renowned for its excellence in design, engineering and manufacturing – especially in the automotive industry.  It has been among the top three countries for car manufacturing since the 1960’s – with nearly 8.5 million vehicles produced in 2017 and brands like Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Subaru now household names worldwide, driven by millions of families and motoring enthusiasts.

Today, the transportation industry is at the precipice of monumental change and disruption – just as the mobile phone sector was in the mid 2000’s.  Trust BlackBerry on this.  We were there.

BlackBerry partners in Japan

Japan is a very important market to BlackBerry.  We have a very strong heritage in the country with BlackBerry QNX and Certicom technologies, supported by our local engineers, sales, marketing and technical teams in Tokyo and Nagoya.  Our enterprise solutions team is also based in Tokyo, supporting Japan’s government, banks, manufacturing, insurance and other industries with our expertise and secure software to help protect company data and enable flexible working.

On October 25th, we held our annual BlackBerry Tech Forum in Tokyo, which was attended by hundreds of customers, partners and media.

During the forum, we announced we are expanding our global partnership with Renesas, and adding new Value-Added Integrator partners to our global network (Hitachi ULSI and ISB Corporation). This expands upon our already robust Japanese partner ecosystem, including Denso, Fujisoft and Hitachi Industry & Control.  If your Japanese is excellent, you can read some of the articles here:

The Signal and the Noise

Right now, there is significant ‘noise’ about self-driving or autonomous cars.  With the Olympics coming to Japan in the summer of 2020, companies like Toyota are using the Olympics’ as a platform to showcase self-driving cars to the world, powered by partnerships with companies like Nvidia for the AI hardware and software technologies.

As it says in this article, Toyota prefers the term ‘automated’ car – viewing the car as a ‘partner’ for the human driver, rather than a replacement. They are also emphasizing autonomous driving for people who can’t drive on their own, such as the elderly or disabled.  This is important for an ageing society such as Japan’s.

Across all sectors, Japan is looking at a broad range of initiatives where technology can assist its people.  Here, we see a lot of synergy with our company’s vision from the very beginning, which is to build things that have an impact on society. The country is at the cutting edge of connected transportation, but like all other well-established car manufacturing markets, such as Germany and the USA – safety and security need to be at the forefront of design.

At BlackBerry, we believe that as all the attention shines on ‘self-driving’ cars the important ‘signal’ is hidden behind the ‘noise’ – that is, software is the driving force in the transition to next generation automotive architecture.  As automobiles will become software-driven and software-defined – they need secure, safe and trusted in-vehicle software to support this market expansion.  Who would you trust to secure YOUR car – and the people in it?

The road ahead for BlackBerry and its partners 

The growth of autonomous and connected cars is forecast to rise quickly over the next 15 to 20 years – with a significant chunk of it coming from the Asia Pacific region, followed closely by North America and Europe.

While connected transportation is complex and will have unprecedented challenges, the opportunities are limitless. By combining and refining our technologies, expertise and lessons we’ve learned along the way, BlackBerry is doing everything it can to help the industry to drive new revenues while delivering safe, secure connected transportation for millions of people.

Until this is a reality, we’re not taking our foot off the accelerator and in Japan, we are particularly proud to play a role in helping the nation showcase its advanced transportation innovation and excellence to the world by the Summer 2020 Olympics!

BlackBerry will be at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas from January 8 – 11, 2019. Come visit us at booth #7523 (LVCC North Hall) where our state-of-the-art automotive technologies and software will be on display.

John Wall

About John Wall

John Wall is Senior Vice-President at BlackBerry and head of QNX.