BlackBerry, Baidu partner to work on driver-less car software

New York - BlackBerry's efforts to push into self-driving cars took a new step forward as the former smartphone maker signed a deal with Chinese internet giant Baidu to work together on automotive software.

Baidu will bundle BlackBerry’s QNX vehicle operating system into its Apollo self-driving car platform, a set of tools that automakers can use when designing autonomous vehicles.

The partnership also includes integrating BlackBerry’s more established in-car entertainment software into Apollo.

BlackBerry’s QNX unit has long been a leader in building systems to run entertainment and mapping programs in cars.

Now, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company is trying to transform that expertise into building operating systems that can run much more complex and demanding driver-less car software, an enormous emerging market.

BlackBerry shares rose as much as 7.8% to $12.96 in New York trading on Wednesday. They have gained about 86% in the past 12 months.

Baidu, China’s largest search engine provider, has been building the Apollo system and signing up dozens of partners around the world in a bid to eventually become a dominant automotive software company.

In September, the Beijing-based company announced a $1.5bn fund to invest in self-driving car projects over the next three years.

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