Blackberry wants its QNX operating system to to be at the heart of autonomous vehicles (Photo: Blackberry)

Blackberry and Baidu will work together to speed up the development of connected and autonomous vehicle technology.

The two companies said they had signed a letter of intent to make Blackberry's QNX automotive operating system the foundation for Baidu's open platform for autonomous driving.

The companies also plan to work together to let Baidu's CarLife software, which integrates smartphones into connected cars, run on the Blackberry QNX infotainment platform.

Li Zhenyu, general manager of intelligent driving at Baidu, said Blackberry QNX has become a key operating system for the auto industry. "We aim to provide automakers with a clear and fast path to fully autonomous vehicle production, with safety and security as top priorities," he said in a press release.

He added that the integration of QNX with its automotive "Apollo" platform "will enable carmakers to leap from prototype to production systems."

Baidu, China's major internet search company, unveiled its Apollo platform last year. It provides a combination of cloud services, an open software stack, and reference hardware and vehicle platforms. Apollo also supports all major features and functions of an autonomous vehicle.

Baidu says it already has 70 global partners for Apollo, including automakers, tier 1 suppliers, and technology companies.

Waterloo, Ontario-based Blackberry has evolved from being a smartphone maker to a major software provider to the global auto industry. The company cites cyber security as a core feature of its software and systems.