Apple Developing Car Operating System in Ottawa Suburb: Bloomberg

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg, says sources note Apple is working on its car operating system in Kanata, at an office just minutes from BlackBerry’s QNX division.

Unnamed sources note Apple has “dozens” of software engineers in Canada working on the car system, which is said to be a rare move since the company usually does R&D close to home in Cupertino, California:

Many of the engineers working in Canada were hired over the past year and about two dozen came from BlackBerry Ltd.’s QNX, a leading automotive software provider, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing details of a secret project.

The engineers now work at an Apple office in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata, about a five-minute walk from QNX, the people said. Apple targeted QNX employees because of their experience developing fundamental components of operating systems and power management, a former QNX executive said. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

QNX CEO, Dan Dodge, was poached from the company by Apple earlier this year, to work on the secretive Project Titan car program. Sources say Dodge is managing the car operating system, splitting his time between Canada and California. Another high profile QNX hire by Apple is former senior engineer Derrick Keefe, a decade-long veteran of BlackBerry’s division, who joined the iPhone maker last year, say sources.

Gurman reports another Project Titan division is working on a self-driving platform, with Apple developing simulators that use virtual reality to test the software in-house. The other team is working on a car operating system (maybe called carOS?) to power a future automobile platform.

Apple engineers are said to have imagined features such as a heads-up display showing apps such as maps, which could be controlled by voice, powered by Siri.

Marty Beard, BlackBerry’s chief operating officer, when asked about Apple poaching QNX talent, said “We’re in a global world of big technology companies fighting for talent,” adding “It’s not surprising.”

Back in January, the Ottawa Business Journal reported Apple had leased a 22,100 square foot office complex, in Kanata, to setup R&D for its automobile initiatives. This report seems to corroborate those claims.

Today’s report by Gurman adds to his previous report this summer, noting Apple had hired BlackBerry staff for its automated driving software ambitions.

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