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Mar 28, 2018

BlackBerry's self-driving car plans not deterred by Uber crash: Chen

BlackBerry sets its sights on Internet of Things for the next 5 years under Chen

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BlackBerry’s chief executive will not let Uber’s self-driving test tragedy affect the company’s autonomous vehicle plans.

If anything, John Chen told BNN in an interview on Wednesday, Uber’s safety setbacks may prove beneficial to BlackBerry’s connected car software business.

“The issue that was experienced may enhance our competitive position by being the one that has the most safe operating system,” Chen told BNN. “So, with any luck, things will even accelerate, rather than decline.”

A self-driving Uber SUV struck and killed a pedestrian near Phoenix, Ariz. on Mar. 18 that resulted in the state’s governor suspending the ride-hailing company’s testing privileges.

Uber announced Monday that it will not renew its California permit to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in the wake of the accident. Nvidia also announced it was temporarily suspending its testing on Monday.

Chen said safety concerns may cause some companies to go back to the drawing board to improve the features their vehicles already have in place, but is unlikely to hurt BlackBerry’s bottom line.

“I really don’t think it will set behind my autonomous car plan,” Chen told BNN.



However, Chen acknowledged that revenue from the program could be pushed further into the future if automakers change the design of autonomous vehicles as a result of the accidents.

“The only way that it might set it behind a little bit is that the autonomous vehicle producers … If they added something more to [their autonomous plans] and this accident causes them to delay it further,” he said.

Despite the testing hiatus, Chen is not worried about his company’s place as the push towards self-driving vehicles continues.

“This whole concept of connected and autonomous vehicles and the position of us being a good technology component provider is not going to change,” Chen said.

“People may argue when but they can’t argue about if. This is where the world is going and it’s great that BlackBerry is well-positioned in it.”