BlackBerry Ltd (NYSE:BB) was issued a patent Tuesday for “methods and systems for autonomous vehicle refueling.”
What Happened: The Waterloo, Ontario-based technology company applied for the patent on Aug. 23, 2017, and it covers a signaling system for autonomous vehicles. The patent was granted through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
How It Works: The system would interpret when an autonomous vehicle is in need of refueling, confirm when the vehicle is in proximity to a refueling station, signal an attendant to commence refueling, stop refueling at the vehicle's threshold level and repeat the signal if refueling didn’t take place.
Why It Matters: The signaling system could be used for any type of autonomous vehicle, including those powered by gasoline, diesel or electric batteries. In the patent, BlackBerry predicted the rise of autonomous vehicles and looked to get ahead of the curve.
“Autonomous vehicles are likely to become widely used in coming years. Such autonomous vehicles may be used for many purposes, including autonomous deliveries, autonomous taxicabs, vehicle sharing infrastructure in which the vehicle relocates itself between users, among other things,” BlackBerry wrote in the patent.
BlackBerry appears to have considered every possible issue with a signaling system, including potential scheduling issues if more than one vehicle arrived for refueling at the same time, issues around how the fuel or power would be paid for and how the system would detect if the wrong fuel was being administered into the vehicle.
BlackBerry added that autonomous delivery vehicles, without passengers inside, may find cost-savings in using a refueling signal system as companies would not need to hire an employee to monitor and refuel the vehicles.
What’s Next: BlackBerry’s patent marks another foray into the auto industry. The company has recently been making big moves to partner with electric vehicle makers and has snagged deals with Baidu Inc (NASDAQ:BIDU) and Motional, backed by Hyundai Motor Company GDR (OTC:HYMTF), for BlackBerry’s QNX system to be used in their electric vehicles.
On March 9, BlackBerry announced it was teaming up with Huizhou Desay SV Automotive Co Ltd (SHE: 002920) which will use BlackBerry’s QNX Hypervisor platform to launch a dual-screen virtual smart cabin domain controller to make driving safer.
Investors will now be watching to see which autonomous vehicle producers will be looking to strike a deal for use of BlackBerry’s signaling system. It's worth noting Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), a company that last year received authorization for use of its autonomous delivery drones, is already partnered with BlackBerry. Amazon and Blackberry struck a deal on Dec. 1, 2020, in which Amazon's AWS will use BlackBerry's IVY platform in its smart vehicles.
Related Link: Check out electric vehicle news at Bezinga's EV Hub.
(Photo: BlackBerry/Waterloo office via drone)