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This Is the Kind of Rust the Automotive Industry Needs

AUTOMOTIVE / 02.03.23 / John Wall

Automakers and OEMs have come a long way in their fight against rust. But now some are asking for more of it — in the form of the Rust programming language. Like the fungus after which it was named, Rust has quickly become among the top 20 most popular languages in the programming world. This is significant in the auto industry because software-defined vehicles (SDVs) are the future.

Software engineers commonly use Rust for systems programming. It is a general-purpose programming language (GPL) created to ensure high performance like C and C++, but focused on code safety, speed, and safe concurrency. These are vital characteristics to have when used for development of mission-critical software and this is why Rust is quickly gaining momentum in the automotive industry.

Cybersecurity and Safety Benefits of Rust in SDVs

A significant factor leading to Rust’s popularity is that it causes fewer memory management difficulties than programmers face with C++, for example. Rust is a “memory-safe” language meaning programmers can write fast code with an extremely low memory footprint.

This is important because memory safety vulnerabilities are often security flaws; research shows that memory safety issues have accounted for 60% to 70% of all security vulnerabilities across a range of operating systems. Without these common issues which affect many other programming languages, Rust makes an ideal choice for safety-critical software.

As I’ve said, Rust is fast becoming an important tool for the developer community, and we listened to our customers when they said they needed it supported. Safety is our ethos and shouldn’t be something you opt-in to. It should always be there by default.

This is why BlackBerry and Elektrobit recently pooled their expertise in a combined effort to support Rust, empowering developers to build safe, reliable, and efficient automotive software. Elektrobit and BlackBerry QNX have a long history as collaborators and a robust, production-proven track record. Elektrobit worked closely with BlackBerry QNX on the Rust project, contributing code, ensuring code quality, handling project management, and interacting with Rust programmers.

“We have been implementing projects in Rust since 2019, knowing the increasingly important role it is playing in enabling the development of mission-critical systems for our customers,” says Elektrobit Head of Products and Strategy Michael Robertson. “We have been pleased to share our knowledge and collaborate with BlackBerry QNX to integrate the Rust language into BlackBerry QNX products and to bring it into a state that is accepted by the Rust community.”

BlackBerry QNX Technology

This support for the Rust programming language serves to strengthen BlackBerry® QNX® technology which is already trusted in more than 215 million vehicles globally and is deployed in embedded systems around the world across a range of industries including commercial vehicles, heavy machinery, and other markets.

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.