The Volkswagen Group is taking over BlackBerry’s European research and development center in Bochum, Germany, buying the Canadian telecommunications company’s assets, which include those of software developer QNX. The move sees the second largest global automaker expand into an area of the business that’s poised for significant growth in the next few years.
Witnessing the sharp rise of in-car connectivity in recent years, the VW Group founded Volkswagen Infotainment GmbH this month to further expand its expertise and capabilities in the field of vehicle connectivity. With its objective of interlinking vehicles and the surrounding world, the field of ‘connectivity’ forms a focal point of research and development. The company’s acquisition of the Blackberry facility and its 200 trained personnel is key to achieving this objective.
QNX, the Ottawa-based subsidiary BlackBerry acquired in 2010, has already been working on the implementation of new strategies and innovations to create a seamless link between drivers, the automobile and surrounding infrastructure. More than 40 automakers — including Ford, GM and Hyundai-Kia — currently use QNX-developed software in their vehicles.
“Connectivity will be a key feature of the car of the future,” explains Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, Member of the Board of Management Volkswagen Brand for the Development Division. “Many customers are expecting connected vehicles of a new dimension in terms of convenience and road safety. Around the globe, our customers’ aspirations will change rapidly, leading to shortened cycles of innovation for systems and functions. In order to be able to meet these challenges it is necessary for us to broaden and expand our options through additional know-how.”
With the exchange of information between vehicle and mobile devices such as smartphones already taking place, the near future will see further forms of communication equally established. These will come in the form of communication between vehicle and the driver’s home or office; communication between vehicle and filling stations, parking spaces and road infrastructure (car-to-X communication); and ultimately also from vehicle to vehicle (car-to-car communication).
The advent of these new forms of communication and connectivity will inevitably provide drivers with an array of information, enabling further convenience whilst alleviating traffic congestion.