Qualcomm, one of the world’s most successful mobile System-on-Chip designers, announced at the Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas, that has formed a partnership with German car manufacturer, Volkswagen. The partnership will contribute towards a connected car trial based in Germany, a new class of high speed gigabit LTE networking technology designed for vehicles, and more. Qualcomm’s senior vice president and general manager for automotive technology, Patrick Little, explained that Qualcomm consider there to be three aspects to connected car technology: act, sense and think. Qualcomm’s recent acquisition of automotive chipbuilder NXP contributes towards the “act” and “sense” perspectives, but Qualcomm believe their technological know-how can contribute towards the “think” side of things. We have already seen Qualcomm develop and market a number of chipsets for the automotive market, including the deep learning features of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 series of chips, and this new strategic partnership should allow the company to develop and improve its product lineup as well as using its current generation of chipsets.
There are a number of systems and platforms that Qualcomm are currently working on, including with a consortium called the Connected Vehicle to Everything of Tomorrow, or ConVeX. This project is based around building Vehicle-to-Vehicle connections (V2V), Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) and Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (V2P) technologies. Qualcomm highlighted that these projects are not associated with autonomous vehicles but instead with “making cars work like ‘phones” in connectivity terms. Qualcomm’s high-speed gigabit LTE project is based on the premise that the world’s automakers consider a high-quality connection to be a top priority at the moment. This is currently being offered at the premium end of the car range but the industry believes the feature will trickle down into the majority of models and markets. The new LTE variant will use Qualcomm’s Gigabit Class Snapdragon X16 modem, which as the name would suggest offers a peak download transfer speed of up to 1 Gbps. Qualcomm already design a range of 3G and LTE in-vehicle modems so this project is more associated with upgrading existing customer technology as well as capturing new clientele. Finally, Qualcomm will be working with Volkswagen to help the embattled German automaker recover from its recent engine emissions cheating scandal. Volkswagen, it seems, will be launching a new brand called Moia and will be integrating the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset into the in-car infotainment systems to allow high-performance information, video and music streaming technologies.
Qualcomm have talked about their need to diversify away from providing chipsets for smartphones and tablets, and one of their pushes is into automotive technologies as well as the Internet-of-Things. Their technology partnership with Volkswagen, one of the larger auto manufacturers in the world and covering many different brands and markets, should provide Qualcomm with plenty of opportunities.