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Qt 5 under the hood An interview with Mark Rigley of the QNX Car Team

The guys at QNX have been doing such great stuff with the QNX Concept Car, we wanted to draw our reader’s attention to the fact that, “under the hood” and so not publicized, the awesome entertainment system and the instrument cluster in the Mercedes are done with Qt 5 (QML2 to be precise) on top of QNX Car 2.

We talked to Mark Rigley of QNX about it, and this is how it went:

KDAB: Please introduce yourself briefly. Who are you and what do you do at QNX?

Mark: I am the manager of the Concept Development Group at QNX. We are a team of designers and engineers in the sales & marketing organization here at QNX. Among other things, we are the guys with the concept cars.  My job is to build demos of our automotive platform, and to find and integrate cool new tech that is relevant in the automotive space.

KDAB: While your team has built a bunch of concept cars in the past, this was the first time you used Qt, right? How was the experience?

Mark: Yeah, this was the first time any of us had done anything with Qt. We had used a variety of other graphics frameworks in the past, but since Qt is becoming more popular in automotive applications, we decided it would be a good choice. QML is super easy to work with, quick to learn, and the UI turned out to be very quick, very responsive. We were all impressed with the performance.

KDAB: How did the team take to it? –  they had to learn Qt from scratch, after all.

Mark: We were able to get up to speed very quickly, and built the entire UI from scratch in less than three months, with only three developers on it. Now, they are some very smart guys, but I have to say, Qt was pretty easy to work with.

KDAB: Did you run into any unexpected problems?

Mark: None at all, only expected problems :). I actually have heard no complaints at all from the team about Qt, which is quite remarkable when you consider how much software developers like to complain about stuff (especially UI frameworks). The consensus is that Qt really doesn’t suck, which is very high praise from these guys. They’re hard to please.

KDAB: Do you think you will be using Qt in future concept cars as well?

Mark: We would be happy to continue to use Qt. We have actually used a different UI technology for every car we have done – Storyboard, HTML5, OpenGL, even Adobe Air, back in the day. Part of what we like to do is explore new technologies and learn as much as we can about what’s out there. But I have to say, out of everything we have tried, Qt is likely our go-to framework for the next car.

KDAB: Finally, do you get to drive the Mercedes around and take it home?

Mark: Hah, I wish! You know, we’re based in Ottawa, and there will be salt and snow on the roads for a few more months yet, and that’s not good for a fancy show car. Besides, that car is going to be very busy touring around North America and Europe for the next year or so. Unfortunately, it goes everywhere on the back of a truck (or even in the belly of an airplane). I did get a chance, however, to drive it around Las Vegas for a couple of hours right after CES this year. It is a fun little car, for sure :).


Way to go, Mark and Kudos to Qt!

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