Canadian Underwriter

BlackBerry system geared at helping automakers ensure safe and secure autonomous vehicles

June 8, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter

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“There is no safety without security,” John Wall, senior vice president and head of BlackBerry QNX, said this week as part of the launch of a new real-time, type 1 hypervisor that can be used in next-generation connected and autonomous vehicles.

“If hackers can access a car through a non-critical ECU (engine control unit) system, they can tamper or take over safety-critical areas, such as the steering system, brakes or engine,” Wall points out.

The new QNX Hypervisor 2.0, he continues, “safeguards against these types of attacks and is a key component of our multi-level approach to securing connected and autonomous vehicles.”

Related: BlackBerry creates autonomous vehicle innovation centre in Ottawa

The hypervisor is based on QNX SDP 7.0, a 64-bit embedded operating system that enables “developers to partition and isolate safety-critical environments from non-safety critical environments,” notes a statement from Ontario-based BlackBerry.

This approach “creates virtual software containers, such that any hiccup or breach in a single car functional domain can be isolated and does not impact or create vulnerabilities in other domains of the car,” explains the mobile-native security software and services company.

For example, the virtual cockpit uses a single chip to run both an infotainment system and digital instrument cluster (comprises the speedometer, odometer and gas tank indicator). “If the infotainment system were to crash, it would not take the safety-critical systems down with it,” the statement points out.

Related: BlackBerry expanding channels of distribution via cyber security initiative with Allied World

BlackBerry further announced that Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. has adopted QNX Hypervisor 2.0 as part of certain digital cockpit solutions, the statement notes.

“Combining BlackBerry’s hypervisor with the high-performance compute and connectivity capabilities of the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 820Am automotive platform can support automakers to integrate the infotainment system and instrument cluster using the same SoC,” it adds.

The ability to run concurrent operating systems on top of the hypervisor on the automotive platform “will help automakers to reduce hardware complexity and cost in their vehicles,” adds Nakul Duggal, Qualcomm Technologies’ vice president, product management, automotive.

Related: Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation launches automated vehicle pilot program

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