BlackBerry CEO John Chen on Safety and Security of Autonomous Vehicles

John Chen provides written commentary on what he believes the proper direction autonomous vehicles should take in terms of safety and security.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen wrote a piece for CNBC about the safety and security of autonomous vehicles. Self driving cars are the next wave in automotive tech. It seems that everyone is rushing into the mix, either wishing to create their own, or to provide products that will be integrated into this new technology. Of course, BlackBerry is there. With BlackBerry QNX already the market leader in infotainment and critical system control, it is the obvious foundation to build this new technology on, and BlackBerry is capitalizing on it.

While the idea of hopping in a vehicle and letting it drive you home after a long day, or a fun night out with your friends, is a very attractive concept, there are also many fears that come along with it. Giving up control to technology, in what can be a life or death situation, is a hard bridge to pass. Indeed, these fears have been realized in recent accidents in which people have lost their lives during times in which vehicles were in self driving mode.

Because of these incidents, there has been a push to require driver monitoring systems in self driving cars. With these systems in place, the car would be monitoring the “driver” to ensure that they are still aware and in control of the car, as the car controls itself. Chen disagrees with this concept.

“Some are calling for driverless cars to require driver monitoring systems. These systems would ensure that drivers of driverless cars – a contradiction in terms – are alert and have their eyes on the road at all times, even when a vehicle is in self-driving mode.

Driver monitoring systems may be necessary during self-driving vehicle testing and can benefit driver operated vehicles on the road today but, the requirement for production ready autonomous vehicles to be equipped with the systems is a different ask and one that I disagree with.”

Instead of a system which would negate the benefits and retard the growth of the autonomous industry, Chen pushes for safety standards. He specifically backs the AV Start Act.

“Governments across different countries have been asked by a number of industry players, including trade groups and consumer groups, to develop regulations that define what ‘safe’ and ‘secure’ means for a driverless vehicle. The AV START Act would be a good place to begin with the ultimate goal being to have a globally harmonized policy.”

The AV Start Act was introduced by Senators John Thune and Gary Peters. Chen details that this act asks the federal government to develop performance standards for this new frontier in autonomous vehicles. Among the guidelines proposed are requirements in how these self driving vehicles will communicate with objects such as traffic signals and road markings, as well as security and privacy levels of these vehicles and the systems operating them.

As usual, BlackBerry is concerned about safety, security, and privacy. In effect, John Chen is asking to not focus on a stopgap technology which will hinder the growth of the coming technology, but instead focus on ensuring that this technology is built on safety, security, and privacy, so that we will not be forced to deal with these issues in the future, as is usually the case with emerging technology.

John Chen
Source: CNBC


Founder & Owner of UTB Blogs. Former BlackBerry Elite. When I'm not talking or writing about BlackBerry, you'll find me using my BlackBerry.