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How EVs are Getting Safety Right

AUTOMOTIVE / 03.11.21 / John Wall

From shatterproof glass and seatbelts to crash avoidance technology, car safety has come a long way in the past century. This evolution has become more of a revolution in the last two decades with the influx of embedded electronics and software. Indeed, numerous technological achievements make today’s vehicles much safer than ever before. Most software-controlled features, however, require precise engineering to meet stringent safety standards and certifications that ensure car occupants stay safe.

As a result, automakers are seeking out trusted software suppliers committed to meeting the industry’s highest levels of safety. This is especially true of electric vehicle (EV) makers who may have the software competency but lack the automotive-specific domain expertise.

Safety in Our DNA

Safety was at the heart of BlackBerry® QNX® technology when it hit the embedded market over four decades ago. Dependability, reliability, and availability were – and continue to be – core features of our software architecture. Our technology is used in nuclear reactors, laser-eye surgery machines, wind turbines, and advanced driver assistance systems – applications where system failure could have mission-critical or life-critical consequences.

On top of our core technology, we’ve expanded our safety focus to include certification of our software, automotive certification expertise, and best practices for safety-related engineering.

Designed with Safety in Mind

Because safety certification is a complicated, time-consuming, and costly process, it requires a safety culture from the start and throughout the software development lifecycle.

Many of our software solutions have been safety-certified to specifically alleviate the challenges of building sophisticated automotive systems that meet the industry’s ISO 26262 safety standard. Choosing BlackBerry® pre-certified software gives certification efforts a jump-start and helps significantly reduce the time spent documenting or re-creating uncertified software components. Three of our solutions are rated as ISO 26262 ASIL-D certified, the automotive industry’s highest specified level of safety – a bar that is met by few software vendors.

The QNX® OS for Safety has a unique microkernel architecture that helps ensure safety-critical services keep running, regardless of what else happens in the system. This type of design is critical for much of the safety-related software an electric vehicle needs, like motor control, battery charging, regenerative braking, and traction control.

The QNX® Hypervisor for Safety divides hardware resources to avoid conflict – a critical feature with safety-based systems that must execute regardless of what else may be running on the same hardware. This even ensures the separation of different operating systems such as Linux® or Android™ alongside the QNX® Neutrino® RTOS on a single system-on-chip (SOC).

QNX® Black Channel Communications Technology enables secure and reliable data communication regardless of the underlying communication software and hardware. Because it’s also safety certified, it is perfect for telematics applications like eCall or other emergency systems that need reliability to report a vehicle’s location and connect the occupants to dispatchers in case of a crash.

Because software used in the product development process is part of the safety certification of an overall EV system, these pre-certified foundational software solutions can greatly reduce certification effort.

Safety Services from Start to Finish

Most technology companies targeting the automotive market are already at an advantage when using pre-certified technology, but they also find outside expertise to be valuable for avoiding costly missteps and delays.

The BlackBerry® QNX® Professional Services team is a carefully curated group with deep automotive expertise and decades of experience in certifying software. We are pros at helping customers reduce the burden of certification. In fact, acquiring safety certifications for critical automotive applications is a BlackBerry QNX core competency. Some companies benefit from start to finish help, while others only need expertise in specific areas.

Newer EV makers that are also new to functional safety may need training to bring their development team up to speed on the ISO 26262 standard and to help design an inherently safe software architecture. Existing automakers, with experience in functional safety, may still want consulting in a specific technical area – such as creating safety-certified board support packages or device drivers. And in a situation common to both new EV makers and established companies, if your organization is using a software solution that is not pre-certified, you may need a gap analysis and help to modify your solution to meet security requirements. Whatever the specific need, chances are good we’ve done it before and can help in your current certification journey.

The Safe Choice

Safety considerations are what drove Desay SV Automotive to use BlackBerry QNX technology in the design of their long ranging, high-performance, and fast-charging EV sports sedan. Similarly, key component suppliers chose BlackBerry QNX to form the basis of their autonomous driving platforms – like the AI-powered NVIDIA DRIVE, selected by Daimler for their next generation vehicles.

BlackBerry QNX software is used by 23 of the top 25 EV OEMs. These companies and their suppliers around the world choose us to help them build safe automotive systems. Pre-certified software and a globally respected professional services team are just two reasons why. To discover more, read the whitepaper, The Top 10 Reasons Why EV Makers Choose BlackBerry QNX.

John Wall

About John Wall

Senior Vice-President at BlackBerry and head of QNX.

John is responsible for the planning, design, and development of QNX Software Systems (embedded software) and Certicom (cryptography applications).

John has been an integral member of the BlackBerry QNX team since 1993. He has held a variety of roles within the organization, including Vice President of Engineering and Services. He holds a Bachelor’s of Engineering, in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Carleton University in Ottawa.