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.

A new technology developed by General Motors may change the trailering experience as we know it, making it safer for everyone involved.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

For some folks, towing a trailer is second nature. It's like riding a bicycle or going for a swim. But for a vast majority of others, towing can be intimidating, scary and even downright dangerous. No matter what category you fall into, truck makers have been working feverishly to come up with new and exciting technologies to make towing easier and safer for you.

One of the biggest challenges of towing, at least at speed, is the abrupt need to come to a stop. Whether it be someone pull out in front of you or the traffic light turned red sooner than you'd expect. Towing down a grade in high winds can create even more issues.

eBoost braking assist trailer This diagram shows the impact of the new eBoost technology.Photo courtesy of General Motors

To help with towing and stopping, electronic trailer brake controllers are common on rigs that tow. They help control the trailer by apply the brakes in the trailer. Setting up a trailer brake control is often described as an art, not a science.

That's where new General Motors tech comes in. Using their electronic brake system from their heavy-duty pickup, the company has fitted it to a trailer for the purpose of improving braking. Their goal was to equip a trailer with the company's eBoost braking system and see how well they could stop with it.

Their goal was to take a 2020 Silverado HD without a trailer and see how far it took to stop. Then they attached a trailer with 9,000 pounds and set a target of stopping in the same distance. They were within three feet.

That means in a full-on, emergency stop scenario a truck towing a 9,000-pound trailer can stop as short as a truck without a trailer. Not to overwhelm you with hyperbole, but that is a game changer.

Why? There's no complicated setup of the trailer brake controller. The equipment already exists, and GM managed to do it with around $1,000 worth of hardware that's already available. It would require a trailer manufacturer to integrate it with their trailers, but the safety benefits are huge.

Unlike some aftermarket anti-lock braking systems, primarily from Bosch, this system communicates with the truck, and can even use electronic stability control to reduce trailer sway.

It's a prototype at this point. GM is hoping to find a trailer maker to help develop the technology. The marketing department is still figuring out all of the details, but in addition to offering it on a brand-new trailer, it might even be possible for certain dealerships or installers to add it to existing trailers after the fact.

While there is a truck war going on with how can tow and haul the most, the efforts that GM is making right now for improving towing safety, such as their invisible trailering system and this prototype trailer brake system, makes the roads safer for everyone – even if they don't drive a GM.

The Hyundai Venue is new to the U.S. for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

If you thought it didn't get any smaller than the subcompact Hyundai Kona, you were wrong. Hyundai's new, smaller SUV, the 2020 Hyundai Venue, has made its way to the U.S. market. Here's a quick look at everything you need to know.

Hyundai developed the model to be budget-friendly.

Research indicated that people often pass up buying new cars because they are too expensive, but then they miss out on the latest safety and infotainment tech. Hyundai wanted to create a vehicle that would cost as much as a used car but have all new equipment.

2020 Hyundai Venue The backside of the Venue reveals a wide opening trunk.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Venue comes in three trim levels.

Buyers get to choose between the base SE, SEL, or top-tier Denim model. All the models come with the same engine but the base model has a six-speed manual transmission as opposed to the Venue SEL and Denim's intelligent variable transmission. SEL and Denim models of the front-wheel drive SUV have three drive modes: normal, sport, and snow.

The Nissan Kicks isn't very quick. What is the engine like in the Venue?

The Venue is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder. It's peppier than the Kicks but nothing too exciting. Still, you'll feel like you have plenty of power at speed.

2020 Hyundai Venue The interior of the Venue features a standard 8-inch infotainment screen.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai has loaded the Venue with a solid list of safety features.

Standard and available safety features include:

  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) uses the car's front-facing camera to help detect an imminent collision and avoid impact or minimize damage by braking
  • Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) helps prevent accidental lane departure by sensing road markings automatically steering the car if necessary.
  • Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW) helps detect approaching vehicles that may be obscured from view during highway
  • Driver Attention Warning (DAW) system monitors a spectrum of driver-related characteristics to help detect driver fatigue or careless
  • Rear Collision Cross-Traffic Warning (RCCW) helps detect when a vehicle may have entered a car's rearward path providing a driver

It's supposed to cost as much as a used car. What's the MSRP?

Hyundai sells the Venue SE for $17,350. The SEL is $19,250 and the Venue Denim is $22,050. That MSRP does not include the destination charge. Remember, most dealers are willing to negotiate on prices.

So it's a cheap car. Does it look cheap inside?

The short answer is no. The Venue Denim has nicer appointments than many mid-grade trucks on the market that cost a fair amount more. The designer of the HVAC system controls should be proud that they're both easy to use and attractive while looking like little else currently on the market.

The seats are comfortable.

Most low-cost SUVs and cars have seats that aren't comfortable for any length of time. The Venue is the exception to this rule.

When does it go on sale.

The Hyundai Venue is currently for sale at dealerships nationwide.