CES 2020

BlackBerry, Amazon team up to create connected, intelligent, and secure vehicles

Audi is one of the companies that features BlackBerry software.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Most of us have seen the stories about hackers getting into a vehicle and taking over its controls. Some might even call them horror stories. As vehicles become more connected to the internet, their vulnerability increases and so does that of the vehicles' occupants.

BlackBerry is teaming up with internet giant Amazon and its Amazon Web Services business to create a a customizable solution that original equipment manufacturers can use to "future-proof" their vehicles and fleets. BlackBerry says that companies across the transportation spectrum will be able to develop artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) "software-driven use cases with a view to enhancing the overall safety and security of their vehicles."

Karma Automotive Screen Amazon BlackBerry Karma will be the first automaker to use the technology in a vehicle.Photo courtesy of Karma Automotive

This new offering is the first time BlackBerry Cylance's AI and ML technologies have been integrated with BlackBerry QNX solutions, which currently are embedded in more than 150 million cars on the road today. That is an increase of 30 million cars over 2018.

"The world's leading automakers, tier ones, and chip manufacturers continue to seek out BlackBerry's safety-certified and highly-secure software for their next-generation vehicles," said John Chen, Executive Chairman and CEO, BlackBerry. "Together with our customers we will help to ensure that the future of mobility is safe, secure and built on trust."

Automotive brands including Audi, BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, KIA, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Toyota, and Volkswagen use BlackBerry QNX technology in their driver assistance and safety technology, connectivity modules, hands-free systems, and infotainment systems.

BlackBerry QNX solutions also play critical roles in the medical and industrial automation industries.

In vehicles, the BlackBerry QNX solutions portfolio will identify vulnerabilities in software used in automobiles; allow preventative software maintenance over the lifetime of a car; deploy malware-free applications to managed vehicles; provide insights into cybersecurity and operational events on vehicle(s) and complete remediation; ensure the identity of the vehicle's driver is known and trusted in relation to their driving profile; proactively scan the vehicle for signs of trouble or software anomalies before they lead to maintenance issues, cybersecurity vulnerabilities, or accidents; predict, prevent, detect, and remediate advanced malicious threats and malware in the vehicle infotainment system; and provide a secure and reliable foundation for safety-critical applications.

"This solution represents a major milestone in the company's continued efforts to integrate BlackBerry Cylance's innovative prevention-first, predictive security products with our vast range of industry-leading technologies," said Charles Eagan, Chief Technology Officer, BlackBerry. "With the average new car containing more than 100 million lines of code and some of the most complex software ever deployed by automakers, the need for a holistic view into the overall health and security posture of a vehicle's entire code base throughout its full lifecycle is absolutely critical. No one knows security better than us and we now have a transportation-focused framework that the industry can tap to enhance the security, trustworthiness, and safety of connected vehicles, providing peace of mind to drivers, passengers and pedestrians alike."

At CES, the partnership of BlackBerry and Amazon Web Services allowed the tasks done by BlackBerry QNX to be made by combining the "safety and security of BlackBerry's QNX real-time operating system with AWS' Internet of Things (IoT) Services in the cloud and in the car," according to a release. This also allowed BlackBerry to combine all of its offerings into one cloud-based solution.

Automaker Karma (not Fisker, Karma as in Fisker Karma but now Karma Automotive; yes, it's confusing) will be one of the first manufacturers to take advantage of this technology.

"Combining the safety and security of QNX with AWS cloud and edge intelligence has the potential to speed the development of Karma's connected car ecosystem," said Lewis Liu, Vice President, Business Development and Strategy, Karma Automotive. "It shows how Karma's vehicle platform is being used by technologists as a test-bed to prove new innovation, speed product development and ultimately to provide owners with leading cyber-security resources and predictive maintenance information via the latest artificial intelligence applications. The result is enhanced VVIP treatment for our discerning luxury-customer base, and cutting-edge technology that can lead to new business opportunities for Karma beyond pure automotive retail sales."

While many of the ideas and concepts presented at CES seem far off, this one hits a little closer to home with a real possibility for innovation in the modern automotive market.

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Owners of 2020 and 2021 model year Infiniti vehicles will be eligible.

Infiniti

Apple CarPlay is a great feature that can add maps, streaming audio, and voice controls to even base model vehicles that would otherwise lack such technology. It also offers a standardized interface that works similarly to a smartphone's built-in software, so there's no confusion about how to operate the system. Until recently, users had to have their phones physically tethered to the vehicle with a wired connection, but many automakers have begun offering wireless connectivity. Infiniti is one of them, but in an unusual step, the company says that it will upgrade older model year vehicles with the technology at no cost.

Infiniti Wireless Apple CarPlay The upgrades will be free for owners.Infiniti

This means that if you own a 2020 or 2021 Q50, Q60, QX50, or QX80, you are eligible for the upgrade. Wireless Apple CarPlay became available for Infiniti vehicles starting with the 2022 model year, so it's a new feature for the automaker. The first model to support the feature was the 2022 QX55 and the new 2022 QX80 will offer the tech with its 12.3-inch touchscreen system. The 2022 Q50 and Q60 will both leave the factory with the feature, as will the upcoming QX60.

It's unclear how or if the upgrade will affect other vehicle systems, but it's a worthy move for anyone who owns a 2020 or 2021 Infiniti vehicle, if only to boost resale value down the road. Cars such as the 2021 Q50 came standard with a dual-screen infotainment system and wired Apple CarPlay, so the ability to go wireless would be a big bonus for some drivers.

Infiniti Wireless Apple CarPlay Owners have until March 31, 2022 to complete the upgrade.Infiniti

If you own a 2020 or 2021 Infiniti model, you have until March 31, 2022, to complete the upgrade. Infiniti says its dealers will perform the update at no cost to owners, so make your appointments now. The automaker has not announced plans to offer wireless Android Auto.

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All-new vehicle

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz splits worlds

It's not quite a truck or an SUV, but lands somewhere in the middle.

Hyundai

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is one of the most unique vehicles to be released in a long time. It's not quite a pickup truck, but it's not quite a crossover or SUV, either. Landing somewhere in between the two segments, the vehicle is shorter than any pickup currently on sale today. Don't let its size fool you, though. The Santa Cruz packs a load of standard features, compelling technology, and a useful bed into its funky shape.

The internet is full of people who'll tell you that small pickups are destined to fail, but let me be clear: There is no reason that small, unibody pickup trucks can't become the norm for most people that think they "need" a truck. They're more maneuverable, cheaper to fuel, and easier on the wallet to buy. I think that's a pretty good reason to at least give them a chance, and after a full day behind the wheel, it's obvious the Hyundai Santa Cruz has enough merit to stand on its own as a useful and even fun vehicle to live with on a daily basis. Hyundai invited us to Santa Cruz, California to drive the new vehicle and see what it's all about, so let's dive in and take a look.


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Hyundai's signature LEDs add a futuristic touch to the Santa Cruz' grille.Hyundai


Competent Powertrains and Handling

The Santa Cruz comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. Our test cars on the first drive event were equipped with the optional turbocharged 2.5-liter engine, which produces 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. The lesser engine comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and the turbo powerplant gets an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox. In its top configuration, the Santa Cruz can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The turbo engine and DCT pairing are a treat, and make the compact Santa Cruz feel lively and fun to drive. On California freeways, passing is effortless, and the transmission readily downshifts to provide more grunt on demand. As people in the Santa Cruz area know, the roads quickly shift from wide-open cruising to twisty mountain highways, and the Hyundai can make that transition with ease. Don't expect to keep pace with a dedicated sports car here, but the Santa Cruz' wide stance and capable suspension system keep the ride both comfortable and interesting.

From the driver's seat, it's easy to forget what you're driving. There's no indication of a pickup bed or anything resembling a pickup truck-like ride. That's thanks to the Santa Cruz' unibody design, which is the same one used in crossovers and in the Honda Ridgeline. Noise, however, is another story. While it's mostly controlled, freeway driving reveals weaknesses in the Hyundai's sound insulation. Rough pavement and grooved road surfaces send more sound into the cabin than expected, but it's far from severe.


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz There's more than enough space here for most people, and configurable cargo options make it even more useful.Hyundai


Car-Like Comfort with Truck Utility

Cabin comfort and materials are another area where the Santa Cruz differentiates itself from traditional pickup trucks. Since the vehicle is based on the Tucson SUV, the layout inside is familiar and comfortable. The front seats are wide, deep, and nicely padded, and do a good job of holding the driver in place while flinging the Santa Cruz around mountain roads. Though I didn't have my kids' car seats on hand to test rear seat space, a visual inspection showed that there would be plenty of room for two kids without causing a tug-of-war with front-seat passengers for legroom.

The four-foot bed looks small on paper but is far more useful than you'd think in practice. Hyundai designed the space with under-bed storage, cargo D-ring tie-downs, side-bed storage compartments, and a sliding tonneau cover that is water-resistant. Owners can cut and insert wood pieces to create a sturdy shelf system with the bed's molded slot system, and Hyundai will offer several bed accessories, such as racks and cargo organizers.


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz The optional 10.25-inch screen lacks wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but looks great.Hyundai


Useful Tech and Safety Features

The top Limited trim with options gets a useful and configurable digital gauge cluster, along with a large 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen. Hyundai's infotainment software is far from the most colorful or the fanciest on the market, but its straightforward operation makes it less distracting and much less frustrating to use when the vehicle is in motion.

Due to its limited time in existence, the Santa Cruz hasn't been crash-tested by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Standard safety features include lane keep assist, forward collision warnings with pedestrian detection, lane follow assist, and high beam assist. The SEL trim adds blind spot collision-avoidance assist and rear cross-traffic avoidance assist, while a surround-view camera, blind spot camera, and highway driving assist system are available.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is an interesting vehicle, and not just because it's unlike anything else on sale right now (that will soon change with the Ford Maverick). It's interesting, because of its infectious attitude, unrelenting utility, and funky style that all work together in a surprisingly cohesive and entertaining way. If I were in the market for a truck, and I always am, the Santa Cruz would be hard to ignore.

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