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BlackBerry, Baidu partner to work on driverless car software

(Bloomberg) -- BlackBerry Ltd.’s efforts to push into self-driving cars took a new step forward as the former smartphone maker signed a deal with Chinese internet giant Baidu Inc. to work together on automotive software.

Baidu will bundle BlackBerry’s QNX vehicle operating system into its Apollo self-driving car platform, a set of tools that automakers can use when designing autonomous vehicles. The partnership also includes integrating BlackBerry’s more established in-car entertainment software into Apollo.

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BlackBerry Ltd. signage is displayed in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during the company's listing migration to the NYSE in New York, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

BlackBerry’s QNX unit has long been a leader in building systems to run entertainment and mapping programs in cars. Now, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company is trying to transform that expertise into building operating systems that can run much more complex and demanding driverless car software, an enormous emerging market.

BlackBerry shares rose as much as 7.8 percent to $12.96 in New York trading Wednesday. They have gained about 86 percent in the past 12 months.

Baidu, China’s largest search engine provider, has been building the Apollo system and signing up dozens of partners around the world in a bid to eventually become a dominant automotive software company. In September, the Beijing-based company announced a $1.5 billion fund to invest in self-driving car projects over the next three years.