BlackBerry Ltd and Chinese internet search firm Baidu Inc on Wednesday signed a deal to jointly develop self-driving vehicle technology, sending BlackBerry’s Toronto-listed shares up 13 percent to a four-year high.
The deal follows similar agreements with firms including Qualcomm Inc, Denso and Aptiv Plc to develop autonomous-driving technology with BlackBerry’s QNX software, which are expected to start generating revenue in 2019.
Investors and analysts are closely watching what comes of those agreements amid expectations that QNX could become a key technology in the burgeoning self-driving vehicle industry, serving as the operating system for computer chips used to run self-driving vehicles.
QNX will be the operating system for Apollo, a platform for self-driving vehicles that Baidu announced in April and has billed as the ‘Android’ of the autonomous driving industry. “The opportunity is global, it’s for a very large market and I think it’s a very solid win for BlackBerry,” said CIBC Capital Markets analyst Todd Coupland.
Apollo has since signed up several major automakers, including Ford Motor Co, Hyundai Motor Group and several Chinese carmakers. QNX has long been used to run car infotainment consoles. BlackBerry has recently developed the software to run sophisticated computer chips for autos that manage multiple safety-critical systems.
BlackBerry shares rose 13 percent in Toronto to C$16.95, their sharpest one-day gain since April and highest close since March 2013. The two companies said they will also integrate Baidu’s CarLife, a leading smartphone integration software for connected cars in China, its conversational AI system and high definition maps with BlackBerry’s infotainment platform.