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A More Secure and Flexible Automotive Operating System – QNX Operating System

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In the recent years, the demand of automotive operating system has been rising dramatically with plenty of supporting regulations and implementation of the Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS). The Automotive Operating System (OS) market size exceeded USD 4 billion in 2020 and it is expected to grow with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) at 15% (Loomba & Wadhwani, 2021).  The legislation bodies of the European Union (EU) have also passed the regulation requiring that all new cars came on the road after July 6, 2022, should be equipped with ADAS (Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport of Germany, 2021). It is expected that the world will keep up with EU and set up regulations to adopt to an Autonomous Vehicle (AV) and Electric Vehicle (EV) era.

Among all the Automotive OS such as Android, Linux, Windows, we can see that QNX takes a significantly large share. QNX OS has taken roughly 68% of the EV market and used by 23 of the top 25 EV manufacturers on more than 175 million cars globally (Gaudreau, 2021). One of the most attractive features of QNX is that it is a microkernel-based OS, which makes it fundamentally different from other monolithic kernel-based OS such as Linux and Windows.

One of the most important advantages is that the microkernel-based OS can work more safely, and it is more secure. Microkernel-based OS consists of different isolated and independent module. And the system units the modules and enable inter-communication to make the system functionable.  Since all the modules are independent from each other, microkernel-based OS can add the modules that are needed and simply ignore the others. Compared to a monolithic kernel-based OS where the whole programs and modules are run simultaneously, there are less modules that are run for an action in a microkernel-based OS. As a result, during the performance of the OS, there are less modules being exposed to cyber-attack. Apart from having less system crashes than monolithic systems, any crashes that occur is easier to handle as well due to the modular structure. This can help reduce or even eliminate the system crashes cases that can happen with monolithic systems (Williams, 2022).

In addition, microkernel-based OS can function more efficiently (Williams, 2022). The modular design allows developer or car manufacturers to update and customize certain modules without affecting the whole system structure. Microkernel-based OS is more flexible as well with the possibility of adding new features and replacing features without recompiling. However, there are some concerns about the performance of microkernel-based OS due to more intercommunication and it can be more expensive than monolithic systems.

In conclusion, microkernel-based OS such as QNX OS is more suitable for vehicles that require a higher level of security and flexibility. Despite of some disadvantages, Volvo, with many other car manufacturers and EV leaders are implementing the QNX OS or other microkernel-based OS and QNX OS segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 15% from 2020 – 2026 (Global Market Insights, 2020). Along with the beneficial government regulations that are expected to be set up, the QNX OS is certainly with great potential in the future.


Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport of Germany. (February 12, 2021). New Vehicles Safety Systems. Retrieved from

Gaudreau, R. (November 9, 2021). Talent Invited: Join BlackBerry QNX to Create a Safe and Secure Tomorrow. Retrieved from

Global Market Insights. (November 23, 2020). Autonomous OS Market to hit USD 4.5 Bn by 2026: Global Market Insights, Inc. Retrieved from

Loomba, S. & Wadhwani, P. (September 2021). Automotive Operating System Market. Retrieved from

William, L. (January 1, 2022). Microkernel in Operating System: Architecture, Advantages. Retrieved from