Autonomous cars not really around the corner — more like 2035, says QNX VP

The vice president of BlackBerry's software division QNX told a Windsor audience Tuesday the age of fully-autonomous vehicles is a little further down the road than you might think.

Discussion on autonomous vehicles part of automation conference at Caesars Windsor

A self-driving Chrysler Pacifica developed by Waymo moves through an intersection in Chandler, Ariz. on Dec. 2, 2017. (Natalie Behring/Reuters)

The vice president of an automotive software company told a Windsor audience Tuesday that the age of fully autonomous vehicles is a little further down the road than some might believe.

Grant Courville is the VP of product management and strategy for QNX, a division of BlackBerry that makes software for cars. He gave the keynote address at the third annual Emerging Technologies in Automation Conference and Trade Show.

More than 300 people attended the event, which was held at Caesars Windsor and organized by the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation.

Grant Courville is the vice president of product management and strategy for QNX, a division of BlackBerry. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

"For full autonomous vehicles, in other words, no steering wheel, or accelerator, or brake, we're talking 2035 — so we still have a ways to go," Courville told Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre.

"Along the way you're going to see safety features, and you're going to see some automated features, but when people talk about full autonomous cars, it's not two or three years from now."

Courville said the road to full automation is complex, with many technological and regulatory issues that need to be resolved.

"The important thing is that the car has to work reliably, has to be safe and secure all the time — it can't work most of the time, it's got to work all the time," he explained, noting that his 2035 prediction had some people in the audience nodding in agreement and others sporting a look of surprise.

"There's a lot of hype out there and you hear about autonomous vehicles 'just around the corner' ... I think the detail behind that is that you're going to see some levels of autonomy or levels of automated driving, but not that fully autonomous car."

Tap on the player above to hear Courville and University of Windsor professor Peter Frise discuss the future of autonomous vehicles with Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre.


Jonathan Pinto is the host of Up North, CBC Radio One's regional afternoon show for Northern Ontario and is based in Sudbury. He was formerly a reporter/editor and an associate producer at CBC Windsor. Email