BlackBerry QNX selfdriving car hits the road in the first Canadian street

OTTAWA — A BlackBerry QNX-equipped self-driving car hit the road in suburban Ottawa in what was billed as the first on-street test of an autonomous vehicle in Canada.The grey Lincoln MKZ pulled away with Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, councillor Marianne Wilkinson and John Wall, general manager of BlackBerry QNX, aboard.BlackBerry QNX opened an autonomous vehicle innovation centre in Ottawa late last year.“Today is the first public fruits of what we’ve been doing,” Wall said.The street was closed for the public demonstration, which attracted scores of people, but the car is expected to be operating on city streets in the test area amidst real traffic and pedestrians.To aid in the demonstration, the test loop around the suburban technology park has been upgraded with traffic lights equipped with transmitters that communicate with the car as well as repainted street lines and new LED street lights.BlackBerry QNX is developing the software foundation for autonomous vehicles, while Wall said others are working on what he called “the brain.”“In a lot of cases, the OEMs want to own that, so the Fords of this world, the Mercedes of this world, that’s their secret sauce, they’re going to build the brain,” he said.“We’re going to provide all the infrastructure, the security, the safety, the redundancy, the communication, how the signals come in.”Wall said fully autonomous cars without a steering wheel are still a long way off, but he added that cars are already incorporating some of the technology such as sensors that will keep your car in its lane, hit the brake if they think you are going to hit something or detect another car in your blind spot.Automotive and technology companies around the world have been racing to develop self-driving systems.A demonstration test zone has been announced for Stratford, Ont., as part of the Ontario government’s plan to create an Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network, with the help of $80 million over five years.Canadian auto parts firm Magna International Inc. (TSX:MG) announced earlier this week that it would join BMW and Intel Corp. to develop a self-driving system for the global vehicle marketplace by 2021.Several companies including Uber and Waymo, which was spun out of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. last year, have been testing self-driving cars on city streets in the United States.Uber briefly suspended its self-driving fleet last month after a car collided with a self-driving Uber SUV.BlackBerry QNX has been a supplier of software platforms to the auto industry for 20 years including telematics, infotainment, acoustics, and instrument cluster systems.The Canadian Press read more

UN environmental agency hails ASEAN fire haze agreement as model for world

The Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution adopted by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) provides for heat-seeking satellites, better-trained fire fighters and a crack down on arsonists and irresponsible plantation owners. It is the first regional arrangement in the world binding a group of contiguous states to tackle haze pollution from land and forest fires.”I congratulate ASEAN and the Governments of Southeast Asia for their foresight and commitment in combating the threats posed by uncontrolled land and forest fires,” UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said in a statement. “Such fires spell a double disaster for the environment through their massive release of greenhouse gases and their destruction of biodiversity.”About 10 million hectares of Indonesia’s forests, one of the world’s centres of biodiversity, were destroyed in 1997-98 in fires started mainly on oil palm plantations and agricultural and forestry holdings on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan. More than 20 million people were exposed to breathing extremely high levels of pollutants known to cause both acute and long-term health effects, airports in Singapore and neighbouring countries were closed by thick smog, and total economic losses across the region were estimated at around $9.3 billion.Beginning in March 2001 UNEP, in collaboration with the ASEAN Secretariat, assisted government negotiators in developing the terms of the agreement, providing for monitoring, assessment and prevention; technical cooperation and scientific research; mechanisms for coordination, lines of communication, information exchange; simplified customs and immigration procedures for emergency response and disaster relief; and the establishment of an ASEAN Coordinating Centre for activities. read more