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How BlackBerry Ltd. Is Prepping to Become a Major Force in Autonomous Driving

The smartphone market is super saturated, and it finally doesn’t bother BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB)(NYSE:BB) one bit.

BlackBerry stopped directly manufacturing devices a little over a year ago to focus primarily on software and security for the enterprise segment. There’s also the IoT segment, where BlackBerry’s Radar product continues to show promise.

But the real opportunity for BlackBerry comes in the form of autonomous driving.

Autonomous driving is regarded as the next major evolution in driving, which few realize has been in the works for years. Autonomous driving offers the promise of safer traveling for vehicle passengers and a multitude of applications from the trucking sector and taxis to public transportation options.

Building an autonomous vehicle

In an age where security breaches are becoming more prevalent, securing the various autonomous driving systems is becoming a priority for automobile manufacturers, and BlackBerry’s reputation for securing devices gives the company a competitive advantage over competitors.

BlackBerry announced a new framework for securing autonomous and connected vehicles earlier this month, which the company believes will make this new generation of vehicles not just secure, but what president of BlackBerry Technology Solutions Sandeep Chennakeshu refers to as “BlackBerry secure.”

The recommendations extend beyond the manufacturer to the supply chain and vendors, calling for a root of trust authentication on every chip and electronic control unit in the system.

Could BlackBerry secure your next vehicle?

Few people realize that BlackBerry is already powering the infotainment systems in over 60 million vehicles, including many of the most well-known automotive brands. QNX, the secure and stable operating system that was powering BlackBerry’s BB10 operating system, is powering infotainment units. QNX is a perfect candidate to move beyond the infotainment system and power many of the required sub-systems for autonomous driving to become a reality.

Two of the many advantages that QNX has are security and the modular nature of the operating system, which allows multiple systems to run on a single platform.

To put that into perspective, consider all the disparate systems that we are steadily seeing emerge on the feature list of automotive manufacturers with each passing year. Everything from adaptive cruise control to lane-departure warning systems are not just isolated features, but individual pieces of the autonomous driving puzzle.

Each of those disparate systems will feed information to a central brain to make decisions and make the vehicle respond in milliseconds.

QNX is that central brain or glue to link all of those systems together. BlackBerry is partnering with QUALCOMM, Inc. in this respect, so that Qualcomm modems and wireless tech will be secured and work with the underlying QNX platform by BlackBerry.

Is BlackBerry a good investment?

Investors often have trouble separating the old BlackBerry — the company that made smartphones and nothing else — to this new BlackBerry, which provides solutions for the enterprise and automotive sector as well as IoT solutions and a suite of productivity and management software solutions. BlackBerry even offers a line of smartphone options, but the current crop of devices is developed and marketed through third-party vendors rather than through BlackBerry itself, which allows the company to remain focused on the key initiatives around enterprise and the automotive sector.

In other words, the old BlackBerry and the new BlackBerry are two very different companies that operated in very different business environments. If investors can see the difference between the two, the new BlackBerry represents a very intriguing opportunity for investors looking for long-term growth.

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Fool Contributor Demetris Afxentiou has no position in any stocks mentioned. Tom Gardner owns shares of Qualcomm. The Motley Fool owns shares of BlackBerry and Qualcomm.

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