BlackBerry makes it easier to give your car's computer a tune-up

BlackBerry has announced a new and better way for the company to push updates to your car's operating software, without you ever needing to drive to a garage for a fix.

Over-the-air updates means you won't have to go to the dealership for a fix

BlackBerry is relying on its secure network to send over the air updates wireless to your car's software. This photo is an example of what you could see in a car soon. The car itself is a QNX concept car, based on a Maserti Quattroporte. (BlackBerry)

BlackBerry has announced a new and better way for the company to push updates to your car's operating software without you ever needing to drive to a garage for a fix. 

The company can send what's called over-the-air, or OTA updates, securely to cars that use the company's Internet of Things platform. 

"There is software for everything for how your engine is working, to how your radio is working, to how your airbag is deployed should you be in some sort of incident," said Steve West, the senior director of business development for BlackBerry Technology Solutions.

"There can be as many as 10 million lines of code in a modern vehicle. So when you look at that complexity, right, there's an overwhelming need to update that software in a very consumer friendly way," he said.

West was in Detroit to unveil BlackBerry's new OTA updates, part of the company's Internet of Things platform, at the TU-Automotive Detroit 2015 conference that focuses on the technology behind connected cars. Although BlackBerry has offered automakers the ability to do over the air updates for two years, the software has been overhauled with more features and a better user interface that gives auto makers more flexibility along with enhanced security to those updates. 

What BlackBerry's update means for car makers and drivers is that glitches and bugs can be fixed more quickly and more securely. The company says it will cut maintenance costs and reduce the number of expensive recalls. 

"What we're trying to do is really change the way that the automotive industry looks at software and ...software updates and provides them the capability to do this over the cellular wireless network or over a WiFi network," said West.

That can mean providing new functions or fixing issues remotely so that drivers wouldn't have to take their vehicles into a mechanic for software issues.

Providing improvements to a car's performance through software updates is still relatively new territory. In January, Tesla CEO Elon Musk caused a stir when he tweeted that the company had performed an OTA update to the company's Model S P85D sedan to improve the car's acceleration.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.